Farewell to the One-Reelers
The plot of Big Red Riding Hood is as thin as you can get, but that is usually the case with most one-reelers. Charley plays Jimmy Jump as in all of his one-reel shorts. A title describes Charley’s character, “Jimmy Jump — An intellectual giant, but a financial dwarf.” Charley’s task in this film is to translate the story “Little Red Riding Hood” into Swedish. So, in the entire film, Charley tries to finish reading the story. When a man buys the book and puts it in the back seat of his car, Jimmy rides alongside the car with his bicycle. He is so absorbed in his reading that he doesn’t realize that a couple of gangsters have stolen the car and are being chased by the police. After a car-to-car shootout, with Jimmy oblivious to any action that takes place around him, he and his bicycle fall off the dock and into the sea where he manages to finish the story.
Despite the simple plot, it is quite original, and many good gags stem from it. One memorable gag is when Jimmy tries to read the story from above a sunshade using binoculars. A policeman, persuing a thief, shoots his gun in the air hitting the sunshade, which falls to the ground along with Jimmy. There are many slapstick incidents that Jimmy gets into, like getting pricked with a sharp object in his rear and trying to avoid a suspicious cop, but many gags are quite inspired. The elaborate shootout as well as Jimmy’s drop into the water at the end serve as the film’s most exciting moments. The part when Jimmy falls into the water is quite memorable, in fact. Right after he descends into the sea, he finishes the story and a wide smile goes over his face, but just as quickly fear registers on his mug as he realizes where he is.
Another memorable, yet quite surreal, scene in the film is the dream sequence. In it, Jimmy is an inept woodsman and Helen Gilmore plays Little Red Riding Hood. Jimmy manages to chop down every tree, except the one he wants. There is another crazed moment in the dream sequence when Charley is being chased by the Big Bad Wolf and manages to somehow climb up a tree to avoid being caught. The whole dream sequence seems quite out of place in the film and is brought up quite abruptly. Quite a contrast for a short full of inventive gags and inspired moments. The dream sequence is no more than a run-of-the-mill slapstick device.