Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Cure and The Immigrant

The Cure (1916)

This film is one of Chaplin’s most celebrated early films, and it is a genius of slapstick.  The setting, a spa with a spring well as the center of the health cult, is just perfect for Chaplin’s version of comedy.  He appears completely inebriated, attempting to navigate a revolving door.   As the film goes on, he becomes a chivalrous gentleman toward the ladies, and then a wise guy trying to get out of some uncomfortable situations.

It is just a set of gags, without much plot, but it flows quickly from one set to another, without giving us any time to be bored.  I didn’t laugh often, but the film kept me entertained, which, I suppose, is the point.

I’d like to make special note of Eric Campbell, who is the giant foil of most of Chaplin’s Mutual films, and a wonderful, if obvious bad guy.  Right at the end of the Mutual run, Campbell died in an auto accident.

The end of the film is missing, but it was found in 2013.  It should be included on DVD in some future release of the film.


The Immigrant (1917)

This is one of Chaplin's most acclaimed and popular shorts.  Certainly it is a jump ahead of his other films as far as cinematic stunts go-- tilting stages and live footage from ships. You can tell that his films are selling better than ever, allowing him to have the finances to attempt the new. 

Unlike many directors who take chances on a new look or special effect, but doesn't put any effort into making it entertaining, Chaplin puts his full imagination into presenting something the audience hadn't seen before, as well as putting a new spin on old gags.

Chaplin and Edna are immigrants into New York.  The first half of the film takes place on the boat in which there is a heavily tilting boat, sick passengers, money lost and won.  The second half takes place in a restaurant where the Tramp is doing is best to pay a bill at a restaurant with a grumpy waiter.  There isn't a single story that follows through logically the whole film, but especially the first half is funnier than most of Chaplin's early shorts.

It is no surprise, really, that the second half in the restaurant was shot first, because many of Chaplin's early shorts take place in an eating establishment.  But the fact that he invented the first half of the film while he was filming the second is amazing, since it really works and is quite innovative.

I learned something, too: The Tramp pantomimes "flute sandwich", which I looked up and found it is a name for a sub sandwich.  Why the waiter gave him beans and bread, I don't know.

The first half is great... I wish it would have followed through more.  3.5/5

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