Monday, May 21, 2012

The Caretaker's Daughter - 1925

Country: United States
Language: English (intertitles)
Director: Leo McCarey
Writer: H.M. Walker (titles)
Stars: Charley Chase, Katherine Grant and George Siegmann
Release Date: 11 October 1925 (USA)
Also known as: La fille de l'aubergiste (France)
Production Co: Hal Roach Studios
Runtime: USA: 20 min (2005 alternate version)
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Mistaken Identity | Disguise | Cabin | Farce | Taxi  | Marriage | Gunfire | Flirtation | Revenge | Used Car | Brake Failure | Caretaker | Infidelity | Mustache | Used Car Salesman | Sock On The Jaw | Automobile | Actor Shares First Name With Character
Genres: Comedy | Short
It starts with an excellent sight gag of a car sliding up and down a hill due to its bad brakes, made many times funnier by its transformation into a characteristic Chase gag about frustration. Katherine Grant plays very well opposite him and helps carry the great sequence where each realizes the other is smeared from blowing on the engine. The topping gag to the sequence is much enhanced by what come before it -- Charley's use of the principles of comedy in order to be actually funny is pretty much unmatched.
After Charley gets himself in trouble with a gangster by pawning off his wrecked car on him, and if wife by accidentally agreeing to drive the girl who's married to the gangster and dating his boss to a cottage, what follows is a very Charley Chase variation on the silent comedy canard of the car chase. Instead of actually watching the car chase we find out that five cars full of people angry at each other for mistaken reasons are following each other -- and meet up with them at their destination.
Here, Chase takes the absurd possibilities engendered by this embarrassing situation and draws them ten-times life size for maximum effect. Chase's brother James Parott, himself the star of a previous series at Hal Roach, is here in an outlandish costume as the titular caretaker, and advantage is taken of their resemblance when Charley disguises himself in the same walrus moustache, round glasses, long trench coat, and Chinese hat for a brilliant gag (recalling a somewhat similar situation involving Charley disguised as his mad-looking brother in his earlier short "Sittin' Pretty") in which the two seem to be the same person serving dinner lightning fast but with endless schizophrenic errors.
Crazy credits
Except for Charley Chase, whose name appears above the title, there is no cast list. Actors are introduced by an inter-title frame just before they appear on the screen. The IMDb cast list therefore uses this "order of appearance" sequence.

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