Harry Langdon in “The Chaser”


Harry Langdon’s comedy The Chaser (1928) was released on this date.  Often pointed to as a symptom of his late twenties decline, it’s a movie I rather enjoy. The film was an attempt to rebound from the less than stellar reaction to Langdon’s pathos-drenched previous effort Three’s a Crowd. This one is a flat-out comedy. Here, Harry is a bit of a rake, he runs around speakeasies instead of coming home to the wife. (She and the mother in law are the usual shrewish stereotypes). The wife (Gladys McConnell) takes him to court. The judge sentences him to be “the woman” for six months! So we get into very cool stuff about changing gender roles in the 1920s. Harry is forced to stay home doing the housework and so forth. The wife starts to wear a suit. Harry serves her breakfast. Visiting salesmen mistake him for a woman (he’s wearing a dress, after all).  At the climax, Harry attempts suicide, with the usual gags about the ways in which he fails. The wife thinks he is dead, and seeing him wandering around, thinks he is a ghost. (To be fair, he is covered in flour at the time).

To learn more about silent and slapstick comedy, including Harry Langdon’s The Chaser, please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc


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