After the wonderful highs of The Bank, this film was a huge come down. It is by far my least favourite Charlie Chaplin film to date although there are inevitably some good moments to be found.
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
A ship owner intends to scuttle his ship and asks his Captain to round up a crew. The Captain in turn hires a Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) to help him ‘
(forcibly conscript) some sailors. This backfires for the tramp though as he
himself is Shanghaied. On board ship the Tramp attempts to help out with a
variety of different tasks but unsurprisingly is useless at all of them.
Meanwhile the ship owner’s daughter (Edna Purviance) has stowed away aboard
ship in an attempt to stop the crime of scuttling and save her lover, the
Sunday, 8 July 2012
A janitor in a bank (Charlie Chaplin) has a crush on a secretary (Edna Purviance) who is in love with cashier (Carl Stockdale). Chaplin mistakes a present sent from Purviance to Stockdale as being for him and when his advances towards Purviance are laughed away he becomes depressed. Despite being a terrible janitor, Chaplin becomes the hero (or does he?) when he foils a bank robbery.
This film took me a little bit by surprise. I was expecting a slapstick affair with Chaplin getting into the sort of trouble that Buster Keaton did in his film The Haunted House but this is a much more rounded piece than pretty much anything Chaplin had done before. Chaplin spends more time off screen than in any of his previous Essanay films and instead of being in front of the camera, fooling around, allows his characters and story to propel the film along. That isn’t to say that Chaplin is a side character or not funny. He is still the central character and produces some great comedic turns.
Monday, 2 July 2012
Charlie Chaplin’s ninth Essanay film is perhaps one of his most controversial. A Gentleman (Chaplin) is out walking through a park when he comes across a family (Charles Inslee, Marta Golden & Edna Purviance). The father, Inslee has his attention drawn towards a flirt (Margie Reiger). Reiger blindfolds Inslee after suggesting a game of hide and seek. Chaplin meanwhile discovers the blinded man and leads him towards a lake where he pushes him in. Later Chaplin comes across Golden and Purviance who fall for the cheeky chappy and invite him home. When Inslee arrives home soaking wet to find his attacker in the house Chaplin resorts to disguising himself in an unorthodox manner.
This film is most famous for Chaplin’s cross-dressing, something that must have been quite brave and scandalous 97 years ago. For a twenty-first century audience it isn’t particularly shocking or even funny so you have to imagine a late Edwardian audience’s reaction in order to understand its significance.
Friday, 29 June 2012
Izzy Wake (Charles Inslee) a paperhanger and his assistant (Charlie Chaplin) slowly make their way to the house of Billy Armstrong and Marta Golden where they are due to hang wall paper. After experiencing difficulty even getting to the house, once they get there things go from bad to worse.
This film made me laugh, a lot, but overall it was messy – much like the on screen action. I didn’t really get any sense of who any of the characters were and to be honest apart from inhabiting the house at the centre of the story, Billy Armstrong and Marta Golden’s characters weren’t really necessary. They and Leo White were only really used during the films frenetic ending which is somewhere between a chase and a farce. That being said, there is still much to like about this Chaplin Essanay effort.
Wednesday, 20 June 2012
While on a windy beach The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) turns his attention to two married women and ends up getting in trouble with their husbands. This film feels like a bit of a step back after Chaplin’s previous films. It feels much closer to His New Job than the likes of The Champion or The The Tramp in that it is a knockabout comedy and a farce which lacks character development. Despite this there is still much to like.
I especially enjoyed Chaplin’s use of string attached to his jacket and hat which stops his hat blowing away in the wind. It’s a great idea and it’s almost a shame it didn’t catch on! The idea is used successfully in a couple of ways; Firstly in a scene in which Chaplin and Billy Armstrong get their strings intertwined and end up tangled up and inevitably fighting and in a second scene while trying to woo Bud Jamison’s wife. In this scene Chaplin manipulates the string behind his back to make it seem as though the hat is jumping off his head. It’s a simple, clever and very funny idea.
Apart from those two examples and a brief fight involving ice creams there isn’t much else of note in this film. There are of course Bud Jamison’s over the top eyebrows and the background setting of an almost deserted Los Angeles beach is quite interesting but compared to Chaplin’s later films this feels a little weak.
Thursday, 14 June 2012
A Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) is on the road when he rescues a farmer’s daughter (Edna Purviance) from thieves out to steal her money. As a reward the Tramp is taken in and offered work by Edna’s father (Ernest Van Pelt). On the farm the Tramp is asked to halt a second attempt by the criminals and ends up in a love triangle.
This was Chaplin’s 6th Essanay film and the first I had seen before watching the studios output in full. It marks the first time that the Tramp is seen fully formed although Chaplin had played the character before. Here the tramp is a much more rounded character and although he still looks out for number one he is more inclined to help others and in fact ends up leaving the farm so that he doesn’t get in the way of Edna and her boyfriend. This is a quite different Tramp from say In the Park and The Champion.