The Better Ole (Silent) (Full Screen)
Warner Archive Collection (series)
Syd Chaplin plays Old Bill, a World War I army private with the British Expeditionary Forces. The film derives its title from a beloved British cartoon strip.
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- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 37 minutes
- Video: Black & White
- Released: June 16, 2009
- Originally Released: 1926
- Label: Warner Archives
- Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
- Aspect Ratio: Full Frame
Performers, Cast and Crew:
|Starring||Doris Hill, Harold Goodwin, Theodore Lorch, Syd Chaplin & Jack Ackroyd|
|Directed by||Charles Reisner|
|Screenwriting by||Charles Reisner & Darryl F. Zanuck|
|Director of Photography:||Ed DuPar & Walter Robinson|
Description by OLDIES.com:
Like his younger half-brother Charlie, Syd Chaplin was also a successful silent-film comedian and enjoyed a certain notoriety somewhat oversahdowed by his iconic sibling. Here he plays Old Bill, a World War I army private with the British Expeditionary Forces. The film derives its title from a beloved British cartoon strip, hopping from the comics to celluloid in a funny scene where a soldier stuck in a muddy foxhole complains and Old Bill replies in Cockney, "If you knows a better 'ole, go for it!" The plot involves unmasking a traitor in the ranks who, allied with the owner of a local inn, is responsible for the town falling under German control. The most classic scene finds Bill and his buddy sneaking through enemy lines disguised as a horse. Superb slapstick silliness doesn't come any better.
THE BETTER 'OLE was based on a play by Bruce Bairnsfather and Arthur Elliot, which was itself inspired by a cartoon character created by Bairnsfather during WWI. Decked out in a lavish paintbrush mustache, Sydney Chaplin is cast as Bairnsfather's immortal British army sergeant Old Bill, whose philosophy is "If you know of a better 'ole [foxhole, that is], go find it!" Convinced that his CO (Charles Gerrard) is a spy for the Kaiser, Old Bill dons a German uniform and sneaks behind enemy lines. The upshot of all this is that our hero is captured by his own men and sentenced to a firing squad! Through sheer dumb luck, Old Bill clears himself and reveals the identity of the actual spy. For many years, THE BETTER OLE was available only in the incomplete version stored at the University of Wisconsin; recently, however, the film was restored to its original length and pictorial quality, and its Vitaphone musical soundtrack (complete with overture) was likewise saved from extinction. The film was directed by Chuck Reisner, who began his career as an assistant to Sydney Chaplin's brother Charlie Chaplin.
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