Movie Reviews - Featured Films » Independent Film Guide - C

Charley's Aunt Movie Review

james bonner priscilla love

Sydney Chaplin (1885–1965) is the whole show in this delightful silent comedy. Charlie's handsome older brother is a charmer as Babbs (AKA Lord Fancourt Babberly), and he's even better as the sweet little old lady who's supposed to be “Charley's Aunt from Brazil, where the nuts came from.” The REAL Donna Lucia D'Alvabarez is fetching Eulalie Jensen (1885–1952). Babbs is in love with Ela (Ethel Shannon, 1898–1951); Jack Chesney's (David James) in love with Kitty Verdun (Priscilla Bonner, 1899–1996); and Charley Whykeham's (Jimmy Harrison, 1908–77) in love with Amy (Mary Akin), but he's having a bit of a problem with her grumpy Uncle Stephen. When Babbs turns up at St. Olde's College in Oxford University as Donna Lucia, Uncle Stephen (James E. Page, 1870–1930) and Jack's father Sir Francis (Phillips Smalley, 1865–1939), compete for “her” attention. Meanwhile, Brassett the butler (Lucien Littlefield, 1895–1960) does his best to look befuddled. Littlefield lost his hair while still quite young, so he spent most of his long career playing much older men. I used to wonder about the enormous eyes of silent movie stars; was it just makeup or was it some sort of lighting effect? Then I saw Priscilla Bonner up close in San Francisco's Sheraton Palace Hotel in 1984. She looked very much like Kitty Verdun and her lovely large eyes were absolutely real. An early talkie version of Charley's Aunt was made in 1930 and it creaks in comparison with this lively farce. Based on Brandon Thomas’ 1892 play, which is so fresh and so funny that it will probably make people laugh in the 21st century.

1925 75m/B Sydney Chaplin, Ethel Shannon, Lucien Littlefield, Alec B. Francis, Mary Akin, Priscilla Bonner, Jimmy Harrison, David James, Eulalie Jensen, James E. Page, Phillips Smalley; D: Scott Sidney; W: F. McGrew Willis, Joe Farnham; C: Gus Peterson, Paul Garnett. VHS

Chasing Amy Movie Review [next] [back] Chaplin Movie Review

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or