The Bank (1915)
The Bank (1915)
Director: Charles Chaplin
Cast: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Billy Armstrong
Synopsis: The lowly janitor in a bank mistakenly believes that the pretty stenographer loves him, when in fact she has eyes for the cashier.
Essentially a remake of The Janitor, a movie Chaplin made while he was at Keystone, The Bank sees his character warring with a fellow janitor (Billy Armstrong – A Woman, Work) in the bank at which they’re both employed, while also mistakenly believing that the bank’s stenographer (Edna Purviance – The Champion, Shoulder Arms) has a crush on him. Sadly for him, her eye is actually on the bank’s dapper cashier (Carl Stockdale – Lost Horizon, Mr Smith Goes to Washington), whose name is also Charlie.
There’s plenty of Chaplin’s customary slapstick in The Bank, but the level of violence is quite restrained compared to some of his other work from this period, and he clearly made an effort to tell a story rather than simply string together a series of loosely connected sketches. But the story is a strangely disjointed one, which means that The Bank consequently feels like two movies edited together to achieve a respectable running time. The conventional slapstick is found in Chaplin’s rivalry with Armstrong’s character, while his mistaken belief that the stenographer is in love with him, and the manner in which her true love is brought to light, is loaded with pathos. It’s almost as if Chaplin really did make The Bank in such a way that, if the plot strands didn’t mesh, they could each be released as separate shorts. There’s no mistaking the increasing sophistication in Chaplin’s comedy, though. While many of his early shorts had a feeling of spontaneity that sometimes ran dry halfway through, the quality of the humour in The Bank remains consistent throughout, and he even makes use of a running joke which sees him glare accusingly at any piece of carpet that somehow manages to trip him up.
(Reviewed 7th December 2015)