Pay Day (1922)
Director: Charles Chaplin
Cast: Charles Chaplin, Phyllis Allen, Mack Swain
Synopsis: Charlie and his wife argue over his pay.
Pay Day was the last of Charlie Chaplin’s shorts and, for the first half at least, it bids fair to be his best. The first ten minutes are simply a succession of side-splitting set-pieces that show the comedian at his most inventive. Only Chaplin could make digging a hole funny. The sequence with the workmen’s lift on the building site at which Chaplin works — he abandons the tramp persona while retaining the baggy outfit — is a master-class in split second comic timing, and the brick-throwing spectacle is a truly astonishing piece of work that requires repeated viewings — it’s not so much the manner in which it’s filmed but the seamless fashion in which the trickery is performed that amazes the first-time viewer even today.
The quality drops a little in the second half, which is hardly surprising given the near-perfection of the first reel, but Chaplin still manages to provide a number of laugh-out-loud moments. Playing a drunk might seem a cheap way of getting a laugh, but nobody could ever play a drunk as adroitly as Chaplin.
Watch and savour every moment of this classic.
(Reviewed 16th September 2005)