The film begins very promisingly with some superb ‘business’ from both of Chaplin’s characters. Rowdy walks down the isle of the dress circle and continues to walk off the edge, having to be hauled back up by other audience members while Pest first cuts in the ticket queue before changing seats much to the annoyance of those around him and finally has a fight with the musical conductor. Unfortunately the rest of the film doesn’t quite live up to the opening five or ten minutes and the volume and quality of the jokes tail off slightly before a return to form in the final minutes.
Sunday, 15 July 2012
For Chaplin’s 12th Essanay film he turns to familiar ground by partially recreating a sketch he first performed in Fred Karno’s theatre company. Chaplin takes the part of two characters. The first is Mr. Rowdy, a working class theatre attendee who turns up drunk. The second is Mr. Pest, an upper class theatre attendee who also shows up inebriated. Both characters get in the way of other audience members and impact on most of the on stage action before one ends the show for good.
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.