Charles is a doughboy in France; for him, war is another opportunity to sing in a quartet. He falls for Antoinette, a local bar maid. She likes him too. She encourages him to study, so he ... See full summary »
"Looser than Loose" could be a model for Charley Chase's signature brand of comedy of embarrassment taken to absurd extremes and meticulously executed. Just as his Hal Roach contemporaries Laurel and Hardy often played on the gradual escalation of retributions between themselves and somebody else (often Edgar Kennedy, who has a fun cameo in this film) to dizzying heights of silliness, in shorts like this Charley Chase played hilariously on the escalation of humiliating and frustrating situations for their star.
Funnily enough, it starts out played almost straight, but overplayed for humor. These overly effusive demonstrations of the relationship between not-too-wealthy Charley and his costar here Thelma Todd will later be a great contrast for what the farce puts them through. Thelma Todd is a perfect leading lady here. She's gorgeous and charming and plays comedy as well as anyone. Here she actually gets about as much chance to do it as Chase does, and probably the highlight of the short is when they simply make faces at each other across the table, taking turns one-upping each other at cozying up to Charley's client and his date.
The complications arise when Charlie's boss telephones him mid-date with Thelma to tell him he must entertain a client who wants to good-time girls (this part of the premise is oddly similar to "Whispering Whoopee", which Chase had released only a few films before), and Thelma wants to take one of their places in the "nice evening out." The other girl is a young Dorothy Granger, who does a great job pulling out all the stops as an annoying gum-cracking girl whom the client insists on passing off.
This is also one of Chase's talkier comedies, with plenty of the laughs coming from witty dialogue and fine comedy acting reactions to it. It's clear Charley has already become very adept at talking on screen and developed a very suitable and funny voice for his character, as well as the vocal bits of business -- such as his deep-voiced embarrassed laugh that seems to surface when a catastrophe needs to look commonplace -- that would become trademarks. Sound actually enhanced Charley's character in my view, which was why he was more so much more successful than almost any other former silent comedian in making the transition. Leroy Shields' music has also come in, and it's wall-to-wall in this short, substantially enhancing the pleasant atmosphere.
This is an extremely funny and well-made representative Charley Chase short, withe the real highlight being his comic acting double act with the extraordinary Thelma Todd.
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