Neighborhood House

This forum is nearly identical to the previous forum. The difference? Discussions about comedy from the SOUND era.
Rob Farr
Godfather
Posts: 349
Joined: Fri May 29, 2009 12:00 pm
Location: Our Nation's Capitol

Neighborhood House

Postby Rob Farr » Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:36 pm

Watching NH on TCM this afternoon, it's pretty clear that the short is simply the first two reels of the feature, crudely terminated at the twenty minute point when Charley's boss wins the jackpot. And the punchline is...there is none. It is hard to believe that the fun had at the expense of the Bank Night promotions was the real reason that Bank Night was shelved. If that were the case, Neighborhood House never would have been released. Apparently, after the point where NH ends, the rest of Bank Night became a heist/gangster comedy. Even though the full feature received good reviews from the trades, my guess is that Roach simply felt reels 3-6 weren't up to snuff. In his mind, Charley couldn't carry a feature and that was that.
Rob Farr
"If it's not comedy, I fall asleep" - Harpo Marx

Gary Johnson
Cugine
Posts: 656
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 4:15 am
Location: Sonoma, CA
Contact:

Re: Neighborhood House

Postby Gary Johnson » Sat Aug 01, 2009 1:17 am

I've commented on this short before on various obscure web sites and while I've always enjoyed it I could definitely imagine Chase expanding the situation out to another 4 reels. As Rob says just as the action picks up the short ends.
Don't suppose there are some undiscovered cannisters of outtakes lying in the basement of the Roach archives waiting to be found?

Gary J.

Yair Solan
Associate
Posts: 28
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 4:28 pm
Contact:

Re: Neighborhood House

Postby Yair Solan » Sat Aug 01, 2009 3:34 pm

Rob Farr wrote:Watching NH on TCM this afternoon, it's pretty clear that the short is simply the first two reels of the feature, crudely terminated at the twenty minute point when Charley's boss wins the jackpot. And the punchline is...there is none. It is hard to believe that the fun had at the expense of the Bank Night promotions was the real reason that Bank Night was shelved. If that were the case, Neighborhood House never would have been released. Apparently, after the point where NH ends, the rest of Bank Night became a heist/gangster comedy. Even though the full feature received good reviews from the trades, my guess is that Roach simply felt reels 3-6 weren't up to snuff. In his mind, Charley couldn't carry a feature and that was that.


In Richard Ward's book on the Roach Studio, he points out that Chase's contract by the mid '30s did not allow for Roach-produced feature films in which he starred, so the very fact that Roach had let Chase go ahead and film a feature (which MGM could not have been too happy about) seems like Roach was throwing a bone to Charley at the moment when shorts were being phased out at the studio. In light of that, I'm not convinced that Roach would have completely scrapped it simply because he felt it was poor, especially if previews indicated otherwise. The conventional story for many years was that "Bank Night" bombed during previews, and while the surviving two-reeler "Neighborhood House" is no classic, it's no flop either, and reviews of the feature film reveal that previews actually went pretty well. As Rob noted, it is odd that the short was released anyway, since the Bank Night people objected to the contest's depiction in the film, which remains intact in "Neighborhood House". However, if memory serves, the feature also got in slight trouble with the production code as far as the gangster sequence that would end up being excised from the film.

It's hard to give "Neighborhood House" (or "Bank Night") a fair shake in light of it being hastily re-cut as a two-reeler, but I am still sceptical about the fate of "Bank Night" being blamed on poor quality...it may not have turned out to be a Chase masterpiece (and the chances of discovering the feature-length "Bank Night" in a vault somewhere are pretty much nil, unless it's right under a canister labelled "Hats Off"), but the cutting down of "Bank Night" was most likely due to a combination of all the above problems - and honestly, by the mid '30s, it's quite conceivable that Roach would sooner stop the release of a feature due to problems with exhibitors (those in on the Bank Night program) and issues pertaining to the production code rather than his personal assessment of the quality of a film that did rather well in previews.
THE WORLD OF CHARLEY CHASE
http://www.charley-chase.com

Gary Johnson
Cugine
Posts: 656
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 4:15 am
Location: Sonoma, CA
Contact:

Re: Neighborhood House

Postby Gary Johnson » Sun Aug 02, 2009 1:07 am

And yet that same year L&H's "Our Relations" featured a gangster element in their film. I guess they were nicer than the ones Chase depicted - all they did was encase the Boys feet in cement.

Gary J.

Richard M Roberts
Godfather
Posts: 2191
Joined: Sun May 31, 2009 6:30 pm

Re: Neighborhood House

Postby Richard M Roberts » Sun Aug 02, 2009 1:27 pm

The reason for the cutting of NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSE (which was it's only title either in previews as a feature or it's release as a short, the title BANK NIGHT was only a working title that was quickly scrapped) was actually very simple, MGM wouldn't release it as a feature. Louis B. Mayer had absolutely no interest in promoting Charley Chase as a feature star, and refused the film in a six-reel length. The story of bad previews and problems with the Bank Night promotion company were later rationalizations by Roach in interviews to explain it away. Frankly, Roach was also losing interest in Chase as a star, because he was concerned with Chase's health (which was indeed rocky at the time) and messed-up personal life, and wasn;t sure that Chase was going to live much longer. Considering the way Roach was also treating Stan Laurel in late 1935, it's almost as if Roach was deliberately trying to get rid of all of his comedy stars and become a serious feature producer. (Hmmmm, come to think of it, where was Roach the night Thelma Todd died?)

The Two-reel version of NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSE is not really just the first two-reels, it's a good reel or so of the beginning of the film, a bit or two from the middle when the town is retaliating against the Chase family, and the last scenes after the gangster kidnapping section when Chase has regained the prize money from the hoods and returns to the theater. it is indeed rather crudely and probably hurredly edited, but still manages to work rather well as a short. it is indeed a pity because all reports of the previews of the feature version were indeed positive.

Sadly, several years ago when Rob Stone and i were going through the Roach nitrate holdings at UCLA, we came across a can labelled NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSE, REELS 5-6, and held our collective breaths until we discovered that it only held the negative to the two-reel version. Rats.


RICHARD M ROBERTS


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests