When a workshy farmhand (Charlie Chaplin) misplaces a herd of cows the local town of Sunnyside suffers the consequences. The young farmhand has even more trouble on his hands when a well to do city boy (Tom Terriss) arrives in town and has his eyes firmly set on the hand’s girl (Edna Purviance). Chaplin’s forth film for First National was preceded by the hugely successful Shoulder Arms and proved to be one of his least successful of the period. Despite this the film holds up fairly well today and has a first act which is of some note. Unfortunately though the film misses a step with the introduction of the romantic plot from which it never truly recovers.
The first thing I noticed about the film is that unlike almost every Chaplin film to come before, there was an actor on second billing. Most of Chaplin’s early title cards read something along the line of “Charles Chaplin in…” or “….. with Charlie Chaplin” but Sunnyside reads “Charlie Chaplin in Sunnyside with Edna Purviance”. I don’t recall seeing another actor’s name so prominently placed on a title card before this film and it perhaps shows Chaplin’s ever increasing belief in his leading lady as an actress. As it turns out, Purviance’s role isn’t really much larger than in the likes of Burlesque on Carmen, The Vagabond or A Dog's Life but it feels like she is the focus of attention for a larger part of the film.