May 29, 2008
Charley plays a nerd in this 1935 snoozer. He’s Reginald Q. Jones, Associate Professor of Economics at Pelton University. A young rich student (Pauline Brooks) gets him fired for his theories on the distribution of wealth. He has to *make a million* to prove the worth of his ideas, and regain his post.
I guess it’s a comedy.
This character worked for Cary Grant a couple of times, but it really doesn’t work on Charley. As good as he was as a western nerd in “Law of the Canyon”, this just isn’t his mileu at all.
Let’s put it this way, even in a comic role, Charley needs a comic sidekick. Yes, before Smiley, before Dub, there was Pete. Played by James Burke, Pete’s a fun-loving dumbie of the type that Art Carney perfected with his Norton character.
One exchange. Pete: “I had an accident today. I threw a cigarette out a second story window.” Charley: “How is that an accident?” Pete: “I forgot to let go of the cigarette.”
Seeing as how Charley was one of the heirs of L. S. Starrett, it must have been interesting for Charley’s friends and family to see him on the screen, railing against children born into wealth. The members of the rowing crew at Worcester Academy and his chums from Dartmouth must have gotten a big kick out of it.
Interesting aside here: Norman Houston plays Moxey, the scam-a-minute journalist. This was one of only three acting roles for Mr. Houston. He is mostly known as a writer of nearly 70 B-Westerns. None of them Charley’s.