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.
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.
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.