MODERN LOVE. Universal, 1929. Charley Chase, Kathryn Crawford, Jean Hersholt, Anita Garvin. Screenplay by Albert DeMond and Beatrice Van. Director: Arch Heath. Shown at Cinecon 44, Hollywood CA, Aug-Sept 2008.


   Long considered to be a lost film, but “recovered” by researchers at Universal, this Charley Chase feature was filmed during the transition from silent to sound and includes silent episodes with intertitles, interspersed with some talking sequences.

   In this modern comedy of manners, Charley’s young wife (Kathryn Crawford) is forced to keep her marriage a secret to hold on to her job. When a client (Jean Hersholt) arrives from France, Crawford is obliged to give a dinner party, with Charley serving the meal.

   This extended sequence is the comic highlight of the film, with Hersholt, unfamiliar with American table manners, willingly following Charley’s lead at using what he imagines to be proper etiquette. The other guests, not wanting to embarrass Hersholt, imitate his bizarre performance to Crawford’s consternation and Charley’s barely concealed delight.

   Charley gives a charming performance, nicely supported by Crawford, and if the film lacks the inspired playfulness of his best shorts, it’s still a very entertaining demonstration of Charley’s comic skills.


   Another rare Chase film was screened during the weekend, The Awful Goof (Columbia, 1939), the first of four shorts that completed Charley’s contract at Columbia.

   This is one of those marital comedies at which Charley excelled, which often consisted of two married couples involved in misunderstandings that put Charley on the receiving end of some unwelcome attentions from a husband who suspects him of playing around with his wife.

   This short was, in part, a remake of a classic short, Limousine Love (1928), and not a very successful one. The audience loved the short, while I found it a sad reflection of past glories.