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: Charlie Chaplin  ( 2260 )
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« : June 14, 2010, 03:31:15 AM »

The Essanay 2-reels

I wenrt through these chronologiacally, they add up to 3 dvd's. There is little to save in these except for some isolated gag. The only movie that rises above them all is A Night in the Show. It's the only one without melodrama or love story and in fact it's the only one I remembered having seen. It gets an 8\10 while the rest oscillates between 5 and 6\10.    

« : June 26, 2010, 02:29:05 PM titoli »

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« #1 : June 14, 2010, 07:10:00 AM »

I have a ten-dvd box of all of his shorts but I've only had time to watch the first disc. Though, I'm going to see three of his two-reelers (I think), The Rink, The Cure and Easy Street on Saturday - accompanied by live piano music!


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« #2 : June 14, 2010, 07:31:01 AM »

Those were made for Mutual later.


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« #3 : June 19, 2010, 03:47:10 PM »

The Mutual 2-reelers

Here you  have a first hint of what will become a more mature artist. Easy Street it's the best of the lot, where Chaplin begins to introduce some social satire in his pantomimes. I was impressed by the fact that a junkie is shown shooting himself dope twice and that the effect of that dope on Charlot is like spinaches to Popeye: surely Chaplin knew more about drugs than Leone.
One A.M. and The Rink are impressive as they show Chaplin's acrobatics at his best: but are they so funny? The second movie it is, in parts, but it hasn't got a balanced narrative rhythm.
The immigrant includes a classic variation on the "how to pay the bill at the restaurant not having money" which is truly a masterpiece.

All in all, these movies show an almost constant growth of the artist, but the fact is that they are not as funny as other comedians shorts. So if you're looking for laughs I still think that Laurel & Hardy are tops. But around the time these shorts were made Chaplin was indisputably the best thing around.


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« #4 : June 23, 2010, 02:21:34 AM »

The First National period

I think the best of the lot is Pay Day. Structured in 3 parts, it makes no preaching, has no sentimental subplot but just good gags and great phgotography.
Shulder Arms could have been the masterpiece some critics claim it to be if it hadn't that last third within the germany lines and the stupid hijacking of the Kaiser. But for its first 2\3 could even claim to be the best his author ever made: the trenches scenes are unforgettable.
A Dog's Life is another great one, with a couple of masterful scenes: but the finale and the Purviance subplot one could do without.


The rest of the lot has its great and not so great moments, but they are quite uneven as to final result.
Anyway all of these movies (with the exception of The Kid, which goes well beyond the 4 reels) can be found in this release, which has good extras (one is a scene deleted from Sunnyside and I didn't understand why as it would have been the best of the movie):


 


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« #5 : June 26, 2010, 02:45:38 PM »

The beginnings at Keystone

This is a 3 dvd and odds worth of stuff, some of it not even available (actually a movie thought lost surfaced at an auction a few days ago), comprehending half-, one-, two reelers and even a feature. It's interesting to plod through this crap to understand how, in a matter of months, Chaplin started to understand how not to make comedies. In fact the first ones are almost unwatchable: not funny at all, just pratfalls, kicks, revolving doors hitting you on the rebound and punches hitting invariably the one behind the ducking person they were meant for. Anybody here could do better with a camera and a couple of friend on a sunday morning.
But then Chaplin gets in charge and things get better.   Caught in a Cabaret is not a masterpiece but it's a first improvement as to structure. The Masquerader, The Rounders and His New Profession do not reach great heights of comedy but are enjoyable throughout and quite original. 
All in all, stay at large from this stuff if you're not a Chaplin (or keystone) fan or you don't care about film history.


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