Director: Charles Chaplin
Cast: Charles Chaplin, Billy Armstrong, Marta Golden
Synopsis: Charlies and his boss wreck a house they’re hired to decorate.
By this stage in his career, Charlie Chaplin appears to have been working on changing his screen character into somebody the audience could sympathise with, discarding the belligerent nature of the tramp in his earlier Essanay films and the even more dislikeable ruffian from his Keystone films. In this film, we’re first introduced to Charlie as he manfully attempts to pull a cart loaded with decorator’s equipment and his brutish boss (Charles Inslee – Making a Living) who whips Charlie like a work horse as he struggles up a hill (which looks like flat land filmed at an angle). In earlier films Charlie would have turned around and kicked his boss in the chest, but here he simply accepts the harsh treatment handed out to him. Arriving at their job, we find an upper class household of bossy husband (Billy Armstrong) who yells at the staff, and fussy wife (Marta Golden – The Adventurer) who locks her valuables in the safe when the workmen arrive. Born into a life of poverty, Chaplin was keenly aware of the breach between the classes and the methods used by the ruling classes to economically subjugate the lower classes. He rarely passed up an opportunity to get back at these people in his films, and the unpleasant couple in this film suffer the destruction of their property by Chaplin without gaining any viewer sympathy. This isn’t one of Chaplin’s best, but it does have its moments.
(Reviewed 21st August 2005)