Since its release close to one hundred years ago The Floorwalker has gained fame as being the first film in history to introduce two popular and successful comedic ‘moves’. Charlie Chaplin introduced the escalator to audiences here and also created the now much copied mirror effect whereby two characters mimic each others moves as thought they are a mirror image of each other.
Monday, 13 August 2012
Charlie Chaplin’s first film for Mutual is set in a department store. The store manager (Eric Campbell) and his assistant (Lloyd Bacon) are trying to embezzle money from the store when a tramp (Charlie Chaplin) enters. The tramp bears a striking resemblance to the assistant manager and after getting caught up in his usual trouble, the two men decide to swap clothes to avoid being caught by those who are chasing them. With the bag of loot changing hands and an escalator both aiding and hindering their escape, the two men attempt to get away with the shop’s takings.
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.
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.
Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Chaplin’s first Essanay Picture was released in February 1915. Chaplin is at a film studio looking for a job. After several bits of humorous business he is hired as an extra but after being a nuisance on set is instead demoted to Carpenter’s Assistant. Through a mixture of wit and luck, Chaplin regains his position in front of the camera and ends up accidentally wearing the lead actor’s costume. All hell breaks loose when he arrives on set to find Chaplin in his clothes and Chaplin again uses a mixture of wit, luck and this time also violence to continue in his job and get revenge on several characters who had wronged him.
The film marks not only Chaplin’s first film with Essanay but also his first with fellow comic actor Ben Turpin. The two share a couple of great scenes together, the first of which involves a fight to get through a door and is excellent. It’s such a shame that the two actors couldn’t find a way to work together because on screen at least, they made a great partnership. Unfortunately a mixture of Turpin’s impatience with Chaplin’s methodical methods and Chaplin’s jealousy of Turpin’s ability to get laughs, their partnership went no further.