Charlie and a rival vie for the favors of their landlady. In the park they each fall different girls, though Charlie's has a male friend already. Charlie considers suicide, is talked out of... See full summary »
Charlie and a rival vie for the favors of their landlady. In the park they each fall different girls, though Charlie's has a male friend already. Charlie considers suicide, is talked out of it by a policeman, and later throws his girl's friend into the lake. Frightened, the girls go off to a movie. Charlie shows up there and flirts with them. Later both rivals substitute themselves for the girls and attack the unwitting Charlie. In an audience-wide fight, Charlie is tossed from the screen. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
During his first year in the movies Charlie Chaplin appeared in some thirty-five films at Mack Sennett's Keystone Studio, usually in the leading role. Most of these were single reel comedies lasting about 10 minutes apiece, but there were a number of two-reel shorts along the way as well as one feature film under Sennett's direction, Tillie's Punctured Romance, in which Chaplin played the villain. Chaplin's apprenticeship for Sennett taught him the fundamentals of film-making, but some of these comedies don't hold up terribly well today. Of course if you're a Chaplin buff even his weakest films are of interest, but the casual viewer who stumbles across the Keystones looking for old-time movie chuckles may be disappointed, especially if viewing them on a TV screen. The films come to life with an audience, but Chaplin seems to lose part of his essence when seen on video.
Those Love Pangs, a one-reel short which co-stars Charlie with Chester Conklin, is neither the best nor the worst of the Keystone series. Like most of them it looks improvised from scene to scene, and the humor is pretty crude, but it also has a handful of moments in which we can see Chaplin's special talent emerging. The story is based loosely on Charlie's rivalry with Chester over various women, and begins with a low comedy routine involving the guys alternately sticking each other in the butt with a fork through a curtain. Even here Charlie finds an unexpected gag: when Chester confronts him, Charlie assumes an innocent expression as he holds the fork to his teeth and tries to pass it off as a "mouth-harp." This is followed by more physical comedy between the guys, rather well choreographed, and not as frenzied as the grappling found in some of the other Keystones.
Once they leave their boarding house Charlie & Chester encounter two attractive young women in a nearby park, a brunette and a blonde. In his book The Chaplin Encyclopedia author Glenn Mitchell wonders if it's being suggested here that the ladies are prostitutes; certainly there are clues pointing in that direction. My interpretation is that Charlie initially assumes the brunette is a prostitute (when she flirts with him, he checks his money supply), but that he's mistaken. When her boyfriend arrives and finds them together, and asks who Charlie is, the girl defends herself by indicating something like 'I don't know this guy, and he's annoying me.' The boyfriend is hostile towards Charlie thereafter. The blonde woman, however, does seem to be a hooker, and to be "Chester's girl" at that, as demonstrated by her slavish behavior towards him. In their first scene together she excitedly greets him by name, lavishes him with affection, and even kneels before him. And then-- Ah-Ha! --she reaches into her shoe, takes out a fat wad of bills, and hands it over. Their relationship is clear.
Charlie, meanwhile, has a mildly comic scene with a policeman and then engages in more knockabout with Chester and the brunette's boyfriend. He winds up with both of the ladies in a nearby cinema. There we're treated to a nice shot of Charlie sitting between the two woman, one under each arm, as he blissfully kicks his feet in the air. But the bliss can't last forever, for soon his two rivals show up and actually hurl him through the movie screen! Those Love Pangs is not one of Chaplin's finest achievements, just another one-reel comedy he cranked out while learning his craft, but there are a few funny bits. For some viewers the most interesting element here may be the issue of how the two ladies earn a living.
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