Neighborhood House (1936)

Run Time - 20 min.  |  
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This was one of Charley Chase's last comedies for producer Hal Roach. Here, Charley is determined to attend his local movie theater's "Bank Night" (a common promotion in the '30s, which involved a contest with a cash prize). He leaves a stack of work to make it home on time and after dinner, he takes off with his wife (Rosina Lawrence) and daughter Mary (Darla Hood, from the Our Gang series). Little Mary is called on stage to pick the winning number and instead of reading it off the piece of paper, she calls out Charley's, which she has written on her hand. The theater manager straightens things out, but it turns out the number on the paper is Mary's. The audience protests loudly so Charley insists that they draw again. This time the number belongs to his wife. Everyone thinks the contest was rigged so the whole town vilifies Charley and his boss fires him. To rectify matters he insists on holding the drawing again the next night -- this time his ex-boss's number is picked and the crowd dissolves into a free-for-all. This two-reel picture was originally called Bank Night and shot as a feature, but distributors were wary of it -- none of their theaters, many of whom had their own "bank nights," were amused by the subject matter. So the film was cut and the references to "bank night" were toned down. Even then theaters shied away from it, which is too bad because it contains a number of great slapstick scenes -- Charley's after dinner trouble with a piece of lemon pie is near-classic. Chase (under his real name Charles Parrott) and Harold Law directed, along with Alan Hale, Sr. (yes, the character actor), who was uncredited.