Chaplin's Essayney Comedies (1915)
Genre: Silent Comedy Shorts
Starring: Charlie Chaplin (The Kid; Modern Times)
Directed By: Charlie Chaplin (Gold Rush; The Great Dictator)
Overview: This collection of Chaplin's early work includes Work, By The Sea and The Bank, all featuring the down on his luck tramp.
Acting: Sometimes you look at someone's early work and see the purity of a man's vision, and sometimes you see an unpolished gem, knowing that the potential for greatness is there. This sits right there between the two. His natural talent is good though Chaplin's much better in his later work.
Cinematography: There is some really good stuff in this. It's been remastered and the stunts, though not as zany as you may be used to, really has some shocking moments, namely Chaplin chucking a cop in the water and other general fisticuffs. The general camerawork, however, not that exciting, but the make-up is one of a kind, definite expressionist and vaudeville influences.
Script: The intertitling has a few groaners, but mostly it does what it's supposed to, give us just enough to get it, then let the pantomime do its work. Yeah... No more to say about that.
Plot: The weirdest thing this collection has is Chaplin shaving the stach and dressing up like a woman, not really to escape unseen as you would suspect, so much as going and letting the men woo him while the stove goes on exploding. Yeah, this is the kind of plot that you'll be treasured with. Out there zany and predictably slapstick, the stories are farcical and don't have that deep a plot, perfect for the kids... except for the beatings.
Mood: Overall there's just something missing from the good old feel of a Chaplin film in this. Budget, ideas, experience, probably all of the above has to do with why these movies just didn't get the laughs that we all expect from Charlie. His features are much better, stick to those unless you're a devout fan.
Overall Rating: 66% (Not that Asinine)
Aftertaste: I'm not sure what it is about this, but I only liked two of the pieces, the rest just weren't all that funny. I guess Chaplin's early work is just plain old 'early work' and though it's fine it doesn't stand the test of time so much. Maybe it's also the fact that I like Buster Keaton better. Who knows.