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With: Charley Chase, Oliver Hardy, Fay Wray
Written by: H.M. Walker, etc.
Directed by: Leo McCarey, etc.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 300
Date: 03/19/2013

Cut to the Chase! The Charley Chase Collection (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Chase Scenes

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Milestone has released a two-disc DVD set with sixteen comedy shorts starring the comedian Charley Chase. Chase seems to have been mostly forgotten, or at least dismissed, by history. The most obvious reason for this is his name, which comes too close to "Charlie Chaplin" and smacks of a desperate rip-off attempt. And certainly Chase is no Chaplin, nor is he anywhere near the level of Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd or Harry Langdon. And part of the prejudice surely comes from the fact that Chase never made the break to feature films. (He didn't even rate a mention in James Agee's great and seminal article "Comedy's Greatest Era.")

However, this doesn't mean that these shorts aren't enjoyable in their own right. Chase was a tall, gangly fellow who used his shape well in physical scenes, though many of these shorts are fairly plot- and dialogue-heavy (the title cards provide much of the humor). He usually plays a good guy just trying to get a break in this topsy-turvy old world. The great Leo McCarey is among Chase's directors in this collection, and Oliver Hardy (from Laurel & Hardy) and the lovely Fay Wray are among his co-stars.

Milestone's set is only being released on DVD, and it's clear that the quality isn't quite strong enough for a Blu-ray release. Some of the transfers came from 16mm prints, and the picture quality can be a bit soft. Many of these shorts have been released before, but some are new to this collection. One quibble: the menu briefly confused me. Each disc shows six of eight shorts on the startup screen, and a little white arrow, hidden in Chase's bowtie, brings you to a second screen with the final two titles. It took me a little while to find the arrow.

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