The Better 'Ole


1h 35m 1926
The Better 'Ole

Brief Synopsis

In this silent film, friends face misadventures during World War I

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Action
War
Spy
Foreign
Silent
Adaptation
Release Date
Oct 23, 1926
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 7 Oct 1926
Production Company
Warner Brothers Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Better 'Ole, or The Romance of Old Bill by Bruce Bairnsfather, Arthur Eliot (New York, 19 Oct 1918).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono (Vitaphone) (music and effects), Silent
Color
Black and White
Film Length
8,469ft (9 reels)

Synopsis

Old Bill, a jovial Limey sergeant, discovers that the major of his regiment is a German spy in collusion with Gaspard, the local innkeeper. The spies mistrust him and poison his wine; but it spills and eats a hole in the floor through which Gaspard falls into the cellar. Trying to rescue him, Bill discovers a cote of carrier pigeons. Tipped off by the major, the Germans bomb an opera house where Bill and Alf are performing; they escape, however, in their impersonation of a horse and later pose as German soldiers in a German regiment. Bill manages to get a photograph of the major greeting the German general, but it falls into the hands of Joan, a prisoner of war. Bill is forced to join a German attack against the British, and though he saves his own regiment, he is shot as a German spy. An old friend, however, has substituted blank cartridges for the real ones, and Bill is pardoned when Joan and his friend Bert arrive with the incriminating photograph.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Action
War
Spy
Foreign
Silent
Adaptation
Release Date
Oct 23, 1926
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 7 Oct 1926
Production Company
Warner Brothers Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Better 'Ole, or The Romance of Old Bill by Bruce Bairnsfather, Arthur Eliot (New York, 19 Oct 1918).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono (Vitaphone) (music and effects), Silent
Color
Black and White
Film Length
8,469ft (9 reels)

Articles

The Better 'Ole


Although now largely forgotten, Syd Chaplin (his birth name was Sydney Hawkes), the older half-brother of superstar silent clown Charlie Chaplin, was once considered the more talented of the two. After growing up like Charlie in poverty in London, Syd joined the famous Fred Karno company and paved the way for Charlie's springboard to fame with the same comedy troupe. Charlie returned the favor by getting Syd into Keystone film comedies in Hollywood. Syd, who appeared in several of his brother's films and worked for a time as his business manager, hit his stride as a performer with the advent of sound films.

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).
BW-96m.

by Roger Fristoe
The Better 'ole

The Better 'Ole

Although now largely forgotten, Syd Chaplin (his birth name was Sydney Hawkes), the older half-brother of superstar silent clown Charlie Chaplin, was once considered the more talented of the two. After growing up like Charlie in poverty in London, Syd joined the famous Fred Karno company and paved the way for Charlie's springboard to fame with the same comedy troupe. Charlie returned the favor by getting Syd into Keystone film comedies in Hollywood. Syd, who appeared in several of his brother's films and worked for a time as his business manager, hit his stride as a performer with the advent of sound films. 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). BW-96m. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

Trivia

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Coburn both starred and produced the original play, which opened in New York on 19 October 1918 and ran for 353 performances.