Looser Than Loose (1930) Poster

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9/10
Better than good
hte-trasme8 January 2010
"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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8/10
Charley Gets Tight with Thelma
boblipton3 February 2018
Charley and Thelma Toddd get engaged, but he has to entertain the firm's best customer, Dell Henderson.... and a couple of party girls. Thelma doesn't care for the idea, so she invites herself instead of one of the girls; when Henderson prefers her to Dorothy Granger, no one can figure out how to tell him no.

With the second season of Chase's sound shorts in full swing, James Horne directing and Thelma Todd as his leading lady, Charley was hitting his peak period in the talkies. The risque Pre-Code plot and obvious screen chemistry with Thelma, as well as Dorothy Granger's first sizeable role, are all major plusses for this short. Miss Granger would appear in hundreds of movies over the next thirty years, including a long run as Leon Errol's wife in his RKO series from 1935 through his death in 1951.

It's also Edgar Kennedy's last appearance in one of Charley's shorts. His contract with Roach would end shortly and he would wind up at RKO and freelancing extensively.

In the meantime, this funny comedy runs mostly on Thelma Todd's reactions, which are wonderful. Keep a close eye on her throughout.
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6/10
Not great, but it's got its moments
MartinHafer6 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Once again, I have just seen a talking Charlie Chase film and once again I found it wasn't as funny as his silent films. I think I am detecting a definite trend here.

Charlie is dating Thelma Todd and he gives her a crappy little engagement ring. You can tell Thelma isn't thrilled by the ring, but she loves her Charlie. Just a moment later, the phone rings and Charlie's boss wants him to drop everything and take a client out for a wild evening on the town. Thelma is jealous and insists she come as well. This and the nightclub scene are pretty cute, though again and again, things escalate and could have easily been taken care of if Charlie had just told the client that one of the two girls was his fiancée (the other, by the way, appears to be a prostitute but this isn't 100% clear).

The film is a merry mix-up film and there are a few decent gags, but not enough to make it on par with the shorts of fellow Hal Roach comedians Laurel and Hardy. The best scene, though a bit overdone, was when the balloons popped and everyone in the nightclub began throwing their hidden bottles of hooch away since they thought it was a raid (a cute joke about prohibition). It's an okay comedy and will make you laugh now and again--but that's about all.
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