Charley Chase in “Bromo and Juliet”
In this silent comedy classic Charley plays a young man whose girl (Corliss Palmer) agrees to marry him only if he’ll agree to play Romeo in an amateur theatrical (seems to me they’re setting out on the wrong foot already). He dons his ridiculous looking Romeo costume at home, stuffing the stockings with sponges in order to bulk up the appearance of his legs (very important detail, as it sets up a later gag). Unfortunately, he has first to stop off and pick up her drunken father (William Orlamand) along the way. The cab driver (Oliver Hardy) is much amused at the proceedings. The father makes much trouble along the way, much delaying Charley’s progress. The money shot – -the most memorable part of the picture — is when Charley needs to run across a field that has a bunch of lawn sprinklers going, which inflate the sponges in his tights so he blows up like the Michelin Man. Thanks to some shenanigans of the father, Charley is also transporting illegal bootleg hooch and is being chased by a policeman. He finally makes it to the theatre on time, but the troubles don’t end there…
To learn more about comedy film history please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc
To learn about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.