The Rounders (1914)
The Rounders (1914)
Director: Charlie Chaplin (uncredited)
Cast: Charles Chaplin, Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Phyllis Allen
Synopsis: Two belligerent drunks become best friends when they each have trouble with their wife.
One of seven short films Charlie Chaplin made with fellow comic Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle (Coney Island, The Butcher Boy) for Keystone in 1914 – the only year in which the two would work together – The Rounders is superior to most Keystone films of the period, but still falls short of Chaplin at his best. These were still early days for Chaplin as far as his film career was concerned, although the studio already thought enough of him – and the revenue that he was pulling in – to give him full creative control over his pictures.
He works well with Arbuckle as they play a pair of drunks whose hotel rooms are opposite one another. They both return home the worse for wear one night to find their respective wives awaiting them, and each receives a telling off. While Chaplin meekly accepts his and allows himself to be put to bed to sleep it off, Arbuckle retaliates. This alarms Chaplin’s wife (Phyllis Allen) enough for her to drag Charlie across the hallway to investigate. Somehow, she and Arbuckle’s wife (Minta Durfee – Making a Living, Mickey) come to blows in Arbuckle’s room while outside in the hallway the two men become fast friends upon discovering they’re members of the same lodge and retire with the contents of their wives’ purses to celebrate their new-found friendship.
Although Chaplin’s Little Tramp had made his debut by the time The Rounders was made, he still wasn’t exclusively playing that part, and he’s something of a drunken toff in this one, dressed in evening clothes and top hat. The comedy is strictly of the violent slapstick variety, and while it has its moments the quality of the material ultimately fails to live up to the talents of its leads.
(Reviewed 19th April 1915)