Monday, April 17, 2006

The Chaplin Review (1918 - 1923)

The little known child actor "Chen-Chen" had quite a lucrative career regardless of his condition, until he was accidentally butchered and eaten by his Korean uncle.

Genre: Silent Comedy Shorts

Starring: Charlie Chaplin (The Circus; The Gold Rush) Edna Purviance (The Kid)

Directed By: Charlie Chaplin (The Great Dictator; City Lights)

Overview: This is a film compilation of three of Chaplin's earlier works, A Dog's Life, Shoulder Arms and The Pilgrim.

Acting: Hello! Charlie Chaplin! Do you ever visit this site? Obviously not. And he's great at casting too!
Rating: 9

Cinematography: The dog is so effin' cute! Shoulder Arms is a World War One story and set in the bunkers and trenches, which look expensively elaborate, not to mention the Germans, the uniforms and a rickety bombed out house they use as a set for a scene. Chaplin always made the scene look good, and he keeps it up here too.
Rating: 8

Script: Funny minimalist stuff, as per usual. He lets the physical tell the jokes rather than the intertitles. You know I'm going to miss watching all this great stuff. I mean Marx Brothers? Laurel and Hardy? I'm guessing they'll pale in comparison. Well with them at least I'll have something to write about in this section...
Rating: 8

Plot: The stories are original while still following the slapstick style. In one he finds a dog who digs up stolen money while the robbers try to get it back, then he tries to get it back, and so forth. The other has a soldier doing what he can to be the big war hero, and The Pilgrim is about an escaped convict who disguises himself as a priest, but ends up in front of the pulpit. All the shorts are intricate and not too predictable, real fun.
Rating: 9

Mood: The stories fall more into the 'light and cute' categories than the dramatic romance, and sometimes that's life, happy and cute. I may be a big cynic who loves deeply tragic film, but then you see these happy little tales, like a little dog digging up big wads of cash for our hero and yeah, you like it for what it is.
Rating: 8

Yeah, yeah he makes it look aaaall so easy.

Overall Rating: 84% (My Review? Good Times)

Aftertaste: What is it about silent film that 95% of it has a dog in it? A Dog's Life was easily my favorite of all these shorts, but they are all terrific. Man, if I ever have kids, they'll know Chaplin, way early on. They'll be saying, when did TV start to have colour in it? Last year? Sweet moldable minds...