‘Now I’ll Tell One‘ is (or was) a long lost Charley Chase comedy, which was marketed on the film’s poster as starring Stan Laurel. As such, Laurel & Hardy historians didn’t pay it too much attention, until that is, in 1989 the second reel of the film was uncovered by Film Researcher Dave Wyatt. To everyone’s surprise, this significant discovery became all the more significant, as not only did it fill in a missing piece of the Stan Laurel catalogue, but it also made sure that the previously acknowledged tally of films featuring Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy (whether as a team or not) changed to 107. You see, the newly discovered second reel confirmed not only Stan’s role as Charley Chase’s lawyer, but also revealed Ollie playing the part of a policeman investigating a disturbance at Charley Chase’s house.
This was truly a momentous find – and proof, of course, that even today lost films can still be discovered, by individuals such as the excellent Mr. Wyatt (so, there may still be hope yet for ‘Hats Off‘ (1927)).
To watch a montage of stills and the second reel of Now I’ll Tell One CLICK HERE
The Stan we see in this film is the old, ‘pre-team’ one with the little rounded glasses, as in many of his solo movies, such as ‘Dr. Pyckel and Mr. Pride’ (1925) and ‘The Sleuth’ (1925). There aren’t many signs of the ‘Stanley’ traits that become so familiar and iconic, but it appears to be a solid performance, without overshadowing the main star of the picture. What is nice, is the opportunity to see Stan playing alongside Charley Chase as he would do so wonderfully, with Babe, a few years later in their classic feature, Sons of the Desert (1933).
Babe Hardy, on the other hand, has a very minor role. Appearing, as part of a flashback sequence, as a cop investigating a disturbance. Whilst his time on screen is short, his genteel manner and finesse do come through – one can only imagine what a thrill it was to have been the one to discover a performance by a very familiar Ollie in this previously forgotten film.
Following it’s general release by Pathé on 5th October 1927, the film seems to have been reasonably well received, although the reviewer for Motion Picture News, October 14th, 1927 couldn’t quite seem to make up their minds, writing:
“Charley Chase has been putting out such uniformly good comedies it should be expected that he would fall down slightly on occasions. This is one of those occasions. It is not a total bust by any means. In fact it is fairly good, but not just up to the standard set by Charley. The story gives promise of developing into a lively one until they inject the character portrayed by Stan Laurel, that of a correspondence school lawyer. It is not humorous as it was undoubtedly intended it should be, and all it does is slow up the action. This is no fault of Laurel’s. The character does not fit. Chase injects considerable humor, within the comparatively small opportunity given him, but he is capable of much better things. The story revolves around the divorce suit of his wife, whose unscrupulous lawyers weave a network of lies for her. A foreigner among the courtroom becomes riled at Charles and takes a punch at him. Charley’s wife joins up with him and they give the foreigner a good beating, as a result of which the divorce complaint is dismissed”.
‘Moving Picture World’, October 29th, 1927 was a little more positive:
” Now I’ll Tell One – Pathé Two Reels: Charlie Chase has had some crackerjack comedies that rank away above the average two-reeler, but this one can hold its own with the best of them. It is bright, clever, fast-moving with a good comedy idea well handled and is a laugh from start to finish. Charlie and Edna (Edna Marian) are happily married. One quarrel leads to a divorce [court], where, egged on by a vamping judge, Edna makes up a wild series of yarns as to how he was cruel, got drunk, abused her, etc. Each of these is pictured and cleverly travestied and in addition there are some additional comedy bits introduced in the courtroom procedure and the absurd antics of Charlie’s lawyer, portrayed by Stan Laurel. There is not a dull moment here and this comedy should go well with any type of audience. It is a Hal Roach offering.”
The picture must have been in circulation for quite some time as twelve months later, ‘Exhibitor’s Herald and Moving Picture World‘, from October 13th, 1928 described it as, “A very funny comedy“, and even three years later on January 4th 1930, ‘Exhibitor’s Herald-World‘ were still advertising it as showing at the Fairfax Theatre, Kilmarnock, VA, commenting, “Very Good. Yes it’s old, but that makes no difference with good comedy”.
The re-discovered second reel of ‘Now I’ll Tell One’ was screened publicly for the first time as part of the Stan Laurel Centenary Celebrations in London in 1990.
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