The Better 'Ole
The Better 'Ole (1926), an early experiment with Warner Bros.' sound-on-disc Vitaphone system, was one of Syd Chaplin's most successful vehicles. This World War I farce is based on a British stage play that in turn was inspired by a series of cartoon sketches created by Capt. Bruce Bairnsfather as he served at the front. (An earlier film version was made in England in 1919.) Chaplin plays Old Bill, a happy-go-lucky British Army sergeant who suspects that an officer in his regiment is actually a German spy. The comic complications that ensue include Bill's posing as a German soldier and facing a firing squad when it's thought that he is himself a spy. The movie's title comes from Bill's pet saying, "If you know of a better 'ole (foxhole), go find it!"
Syd Chaplin, whose other American film successes include a version of Charley's Aunt (1925), never acquired American citizenship and returned to his native land in 1925 after problems with the Internal Revenue Service. He made only one movie, A Little Bit of Fluff (1928) in England before retiring from the screen.
Director: Charles Reisner
Screenplay: Charles Reisner, Darryl F. Zanuck, Robert E. Hopkins (titles) from comics by Bruce Bairnsfather, play by Bairnsfather and Arthur Eliot
Cinematography: Ed Du Par
Original Music: Maurice Baron
Cast: Sydney Chaplin (Old Bill), Doris Hill (Joan), Harold Goodwin (Bert), Theodore Lorch (Gaspard), Ed Kennedy (Corporal Quint), Charles K. Gerrard (The Major).
by Roger Fristoe