The Adventurer (1917)
Director: Charles Chaplin
Cast: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell
Synopsis: The Little Tramp escapes from prison; saves a girl and her mother from drowning; and creates havoc at a swank party.
The Adventurer is the one with the sliding doors that allow Charlie to trap the heads of both his nemesis, the portly, heavily-bearded Eric Campbell, and a pursuing prison guard, and it’s pretty good. I wonder how many times they rehearsed that sequence before Chaplin was satisfied that they could pull it off in one take. He was a notorious perfectionist, so it’s not unlikely that Eric and his mate were getting sore necks by the time it was in the can.
Most of the laughs come from the acrobatic chase scenes, and it’s incredible how suddenly the film seems to come alive when the chases begin. Chaplin was still a few years from trying to add an element of pathos to his stories and, while it’s easy to understand his desire to do so as he developed as a film comedian, when you see those later films you sometimes hanker for these simple, uncomplicated little movies.
(Reviewed 24th October 2009)