Charley Chase in ON THE WRONG TREK (1936) – With cameo appearances by Laurel & Hardy

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Laurel & Hardy do a cute cameo appearance in Charley Chase’s next-to-last Hal Roach short subject as hitchhikers who point their thumbs in opposite directions. Charley tells his mother-in-law that Stan and Ollie “look like a couple of horse thieves to me!” and mimics Stan’s head-scratching gesture.

However, The Boys’ cameo is hardly the movie’s only nod to L&H. Other homages (intended or not) include Charley’s Ollie-like persnickety politeness in asking favors of people; the mother-in-law intoning at one point, “Here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into!”; and future Way Out West co-star Rosina Lawrence playing Charley’s wife (not to mention the usual L&H/Roach technicians to be found in the movie’s credits).

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In fact, the L&H nods are almost the only amusement to be found in this lackadaisical short, in which Charley, his wife, and his stereotypical mother-in-law (“Mother knows best!” chimes Mrs. Chase, every time Mom sticks her nose into Charley’s business) lose their clothing and their automobile gas during an attempted vacation trip. There are lots of cutesy jokes about Depression bums and California that have aged very badly. And Charley Chase’s Everyman quality, once so endearing to the public, has been worn thin by similarly flustered male types depicted on generations of sitcoms since. On the Wrong Trek is watchable for curiosity’s sake, but maybe not more than once.

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