Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Tramp

The Tramp (1915)

This film is going to get a high rating.  Not because it's popular, or because it is named after Chaplin's beloved character.  But because it is only the second film that really expresses the character of The Tramp, as we have known him.  In most of the films previous, Chaplin's tight-vested, baggy-trousered often-impoverished character is either a drunk, a coveter of women or a criminal.  Not just an unsavory character, but also not a particularly likable one, for he has very few redeeming qualities. 

In The Tramp, however, our tramp does lust after the girl and her money, but proves himself heroic and chivalrous. He could have taken money, many times over.  Mind you, he is still clumsy and lazy and a horrible worker, but we like him despite all that.  That is the charm of the Tramp, and the only time his character really works.  We saw this character in The New Janitor, and we see it again, even more so, in this film. 

This doesn't mean that the film is a complete winner.  Most of the gags aren't funny, and the film seems pieced together.  We have the events around the Tramp and the country girl, and we have the tramp trying unsuccessfully being a farm hand.  Neither are deeply funny, but the country girl story is adorable and the plot is strong.  It holds together as one piece.  And the bittersweet ending is perfect for future Chaplin films, and it works well here.


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