Friday, 1 June 2012

In the Park

Chaplin’s first one reel farce for Essanay is set in a park. A lady has her handbag stolen by a thief who then attempts to steal Chaplin’s sausages. Chaplin ends up with the bag and it goes from person to person with each usually ending up with a brick to the face or foot to the bottom until one man tries to kill himself and another ends up in Police custody.

For such a short film In the Park has a surprisingly large cast. Chaplin regulars such as Edna Purviance, Leo White, Ernest Van Pelt and Bud Jamison all appear along with three or four other bit players. Considering the film is only fourteen minutes long it feels like a lot happens and is more reminiscent of Chaplin’s Keystone pictures rather than say The Champion which was released just a week earlier than this.

As usual for Chaplin’s films of the time there are plenty of mistaken punches and kicks, doffing of hats and general thievery and nuisance but the highlight is when Chaplin steals a string of sausages which he places in his breast pocket and then swings his body from side to side in order to get them into his mouth. It’s little things like this which show Chaplin’s promise and set him apart from his contemporaries.

The film’s pacing helps to make it seem perhaps better than it actually is. There is little originality in it and although it is better than Chaplin’s first two Essanay films, it’s still not quite as good as The Champion


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