DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE BETTER 'OLE (director/writer: Chuck Reisner; screenwriters: Darryl F. Zanuck/from comics by Captain Bruce Bairnsfather, play by Bairnsfather and Arthur Eliot/; cinematographer: Ed Du Par; editor: Ray Enright; music: Maurice Baron; cast:  Syd Chaplin (Old Bill), Doris Hill (Joan), Jack Ackroyd (Little Alf), Arthur Clayton (The Colonel), Theodore Lorch (Gaspard), Tom McGuire (English general), Kewpie Morgan (German general), Tom Kennedy (The Blacksmith), Ed Kennedy (Corporal Quint), Charles Gerrard (The Major), Harold Goodwin (Ben); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; Warner Brothers; 1926-silent-USA)

"A farcical war comedy."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A forgotten early experimental silent, using WB's Vitaphone sound-on-disc system (the only sound is a synchronized musical score and sound effects, though some believe they heard the word coffee spoken). It's a farcical war comedy directed and written by Chuck Reisner ("The Big Store"/"Lost in a Harem"). It was based on the comics by Captain Bruce Bairnsfather and a 1917 musical play based on the comics by Bairnsfather and Arthur Eliot.

Charlie Chaplin's older half-brother Sydney Chaplin stars as a bumbling but jolly veteran Brit soldier during World War I named Old Bill. He accidentally discovers the major (Charles Gerrard) in his regiment is a German spy in collusion with the local innkeeper Gaspard (Theodore Lorch), who has carrier pigeons in his basement. Somehow Bill and his army pal Little Alf (Jack Ackroyd) are trapped into posing as German soldiers attacking a Brit unit. But Bill takes a photo of the Major greeting a German general (Kewpie Morgan), hoping such evidence will alert the British command. When the photo is lost things appear grim, but the waitress at the inn, Joan (Doris Hill), somehow gets the photo and saves Bill from being executed by the Brits as a German spy.
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An earlier film version was made in England in 1919. The comma in front of ole is for an H, as the Hole refers to a foxhole in cockney lingo.

REVIEWED ON 2/23/2017       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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