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In "A Night in the Show", one of Charlie Chaplin's many short films,
plays two roles as two spectators at a music-hall show. It has a few good
laughs and also provides an interesting look at old-fashioned theater
During the first part, there are some misadventures as Charlie's characters settle into their seats, with one of his characters being the kind of chronic seat-changer that we've all had to deal with. During the second part, the show begins, and the audience and the various performers compete with each other for attention.
Chaplin used a lot of comic ideas in this one, some slapstick and some more subtle. It is also very interesting as a look (though probably exaggerated) at the kind of often off-beat live entertainment that was so popular in the days before television and radio.
This is an interesting short, and worth a look.
Charlie Chaplin made an odd little short indeed! He plays two different characters--neither of which are his usual "Little Tramp". Instead, he plays two really annoying audience members at a live show. Mr. Pest was a drunk rich guy who acted like he was the only one in the audience--having no regard for others at all during the show--even annoying the performers from time to time. Mr. Rowdy was a poorer guy in the balcony who nearly fell off the balcony several times and was prone to throwing or dropping things. Together, they both helped to ruin the show. While this is all the plot there really is in the film, it's so much fun and there's so much silly slapstick humor that I had a fine time. Usually I like more plot, but funny is funny.
This is one of the first Charlie Chaplin films I ever watched, and still holds as one of my favorites. This is a film you have to watch very closely to appreciate. While there is plenty of the signature slapstick comedy you would expect to see in a Chaplin film, there are many more funny scenes that happen quickly through gestures and facial expressions. To fully experience the hilarity this film offers, you first have to fully understand what is going on, and to remember that the people in the audience are in the wealthy upper-class.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Chaplin edited, wrote, directed, and starred in this film which pokes fun at the music halls of his youth. Chaplin must have known from an early age that he was destined to be an entertainer. Here he's already commenting on the horrible acts he must have born witness to, as he was working as a comedy apprentice growing up. He also seems to be saying something about the classes with him playing Mr. Rowdy in the balcony and Mr. Pest in the orchestra seat and then the tier. Perhaps it's that one doesn't need to be a member of the upper class to understand and determine what makes bad entertainment. Also, what unfolds appears to be a competition between Mr. Rowdy and Mr. Pest for the audience's attention. Mr. Rowdy wins hands down in the end. Chaplin may be telling us one doesn't have to be a talented or high-minded artist to entertain the masses either. One just has to be funny, and funny he is in this film, which gets funnier as it goes along. The film builds to a crescendo of snakes, fruit/egg/pie-throwing and a fire hose cooling everyone down. Look for Lloyd Bacon in the balcony. **1/2 of 4 stars.
If you're in the right frame of mind for it, "A Night at the Show" is
Charlie Chaplin at his slapstick best. I like my early Chaplin tipsy,
abusive, mischievous, amorous, and a little put off by the world around
him, and he's all of these things in this one. He's also two
Mr. Rowdy (Chaplin) is an abusive drunk with an overblown mischievous streak. We learn little about him, and he's there for the laughs he provides. He does provide them, and one can imagine that he was just a fun character to play.
Mr. Pest (Chaplin), on the other hand, has the universe revolving around him. Everyone else in the theater is there for his amusement, and it strained credulity a little bit which is fine that he wasn't just thrown out of the place.
The show which Chaplin attends is intolerable until Chaplin takes matters into his own hands. Some people in the audience, you'll feel, deserve to be smacked, and of course, they are knocked around by a master.
I'm a big fan of his Keystone stuff, but "A Night at the Show" is Chaplin freed at Essanay. The world is his oyster, and he sups on seafood. It's a blast!
"A Night In The Show" (1915, Chaplin) "A Night In The Show" is Charlie
at his best in this early stage in his careeer. Early being his 48th
overall film and 32nd directing, all within 1914 and 1915, and one of
49 in that time period. From the very beginning, the film just flows
from one comedic segment into another. The beginning is rather
lackluster which may only bolster the opinion of a rising laugh
overall. Charlie starts trouble and adds on to future troubles all at
once. All the sketches are played out with perfect timing. In the
middle of the ruckus that Charlie causes as he moves around the theater
is another tramp in the first seat of the aisle in the balcony. He
spills beer onto the people below, throws cream puffs at a dude and a
little person act, and in the grand finale, uses a fire hose to put out
a fire which is part of the act on stage.
This is one of the few of these early films that could withstand repeated watching of it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an early silent short by Charlie Chaplin. There will be
This short, which celebrates its centennial this year, is a star vehicle for Charlie Chaplin, who plays two roles in this-first, a Mr. Pest, a "gentleman" in evening clothes and, second, a Mr. Rowdy, a less refined fellow sitting in the "cheap seats" up high. Both of them are well fortified against cold weather, though Mr. Rowdy is more obviously so, so much that his entry into the short shows him very nearly walking out of the balcony (something he comes close to doing several times.
It is Mr. Pest, however, who gets the most to do here. At first, it seems possible that Mr. Pest will be upstaged by the odd people populating the theater, with Mr. Pest merely reacting to the people around him, with the occasional rude bit of business on his part. The gags are fairly standard here. Mr. Pest having to move in and out of rows to change seats several times. The funniest of these comes when a woman sitting next to him glances in his direction with a "we are not amused" expression which would stop Big Ben in mid-chime! Chaplin's reaction is priceless! Pest then begins to cause all sorts of problems for the musicians seated directly in front of him, before getting struck repeatedly by accident and starting a fight. At one point, he briefly exits the theater forcefully enough to knock a woman into a fountain and a bit centers around the two which is fairly funny and indicative of Pest's "character". Pest reenters the theater are takes up different seats for different reasons, culminating in various gags, the majority of them old standards.
Ultimately, he winds up next to the stage, where he proceeds to run through a variety of seat mates, all of whom set up some bit of business, until the show on the stage begins. The "acts" are all bad, though some are truly awful. Mr. Pest and Mr. Rowdy both have their own responses to the "entertainment" being staged before their bleary eyes and they are more appreciated by the audience than the performers on the stage are. Mr. Pest lights his cigar on the snake charmer's cigarette, to her annoyance and then strikes a match on her foot. There are two "singers" who receive annoyed stares from Mr. Pest and thrown produce and pastries from Mr. Rowdy. The shorter one emerges more or less unscathed and continues to "sing" even after his partner departs until Mr. Pest applies the coup de grace.
Mr. Rowdy has the final triumph, during the fire-eater's act and the ending is excellent.
This short is included as an extra on the Criterion Blu Ray release of Limelight. It's been painstakingly restored and looks beautiful. It looks almost new and is well worth watching. Recommended.
Long before he became a smash on the silver screen, Charlie Chaplin had
been making a splash in music hall comedy, where he honed his craft and
began to discover his comic persona. A Night in the Show is one of the
few Chaplin pictures to directly reference those theatrical beginnings,
borrowing heavily from the Fred Karno sketch "Mummingbirds", with a
sprinkling of Chaplin's own touches.
Appropriately enough, this is also a rare outing for Chaplin's aristocratic drunk act, which predates his little tramp, having originated in his days with the Karno troupe. While not as versatile or sympathetic as the tramp, the drunk could nevertheless be just as funny. With Chaplin's refined directorial style, he makes the most of the character's antics, allowing him to bumble about in a series of long takes. He is joined by "Mr Rowdy", also played by Chaplin, a character I have not seen anywhere else, but who bares a slight resemblance to the screen persona of Ben Turpin, who made a few appearances for Chaplin in earlier Essanay shorts. Mr Rowdy isn't exactly hilarious, although he allows for some interplay between the two Chaplins, as we see the drink Rowdy pours from the gallery landing on the drunk in the stalls in two separate shots, which is a kind of cinematic joke in itself and one thing Chaplin couldn't have done on stage.
In fact, this whole piece seems to be Chaplin showing off the advantages of screen over stage. Although in the Karno sketch the drunk would be planted in the audience, right by the stage as we see him here, it did not involve the audience any further. In the medium of film, Chaplin can make as many gags as he wants among the on screen audience. In the most bizarre bit of nose-thumbing, there is even a Georges Melies moment, when the demonic fire-eater "appears" on stage with a stop-trick. It is, in many ways, one of the most intelligent shorts Chaplin made at Essanay. And yet, sadly it isn't very funny. It doesn't have the sense of cohesion or build up of gags that we would expect from a Chaplin short by this point.
But there's still time for the all-important statistic - Number of kicks up the arse: 1 (1 for)
I could be wrong, but I believe this early Chaplin comedy was based on one of his music hall sketches for Fred Karno (and for which a young Stan Laurel served as understudy). Chaplin plays two characters in this one: Mr Pest and Mr Rowdy, both of whom create chaos in a theatre. One of them (I forget which) is dressed in an evening suit, suggesting a character of some breeding, while the other is sat high up in the cheap seats. There's only a few scattered laughs in this one, and quite a bit less physical and slapstick comedy than you'd expect from the little man. Chaplin makes a convincing lush, however, and is barely recognisable as the guy in the cheap seats..
A Night in the Show starts off with a stunt that is less than characteristic
for a Chaplin film, because it's just not very imaginative. Charlie cuts in
line to get into a show, and is told by the guard to get to the end of the
line and wait his turn. So he calmly agrees to do it, but then he goes out
and stands behind a statue while everyone else files away. Why did he do
this? Is he supposed to be drunk or something? His antics within the
auditorium seem to indicate that he is, as he staggeringly wiggles his way
down a couple of crowded aisles, lights a match off of a bald man's head,
and throws his match into a nearby tuba, and claps at all the wrong times.
These are the kinds of things that Chaplin is so well-known for, these
situations where he seems to upset everyone around him without even really
realizing that he's doing anything wrong.
Of course, it's not always his fault, as in this case, he is led to the wrong seat, causing him to make his way down these crowded aisles repeatedly, upsetting more people every time. The film begins to delve into simplistic but hilarious violence as Charlie ultimately proceeds to belligerently punch everyone in sight with his characteristic roundhouse punches, bringing the whole house to their feet and having to be forcefully removed. He is seated in another section while the conductor of the band in the show (the first person he attacked) puts himself and his equipment back together in an effort to begin the rest of the show.
There is an element of foreshadowing in the film as we witness another person who is not unruly, but who is a little unstable on his feet and who resembles the Tramp far too much to be anything but a person who is going to cause some trouble at some point in the film, with the expected result that everyone will take him as the Tramp and Charlie will take the blame for whatever he does. This guy turns out to be a mildly amusing character as he cheerfully dumps a beer from the balcony onto the audience below, where the Tramp, fresh from shoving a fat lady into a tub of water, is flirting with a flapper girl who he caught eyeing him from across the room.
Not exactly the best stuff from Chaplin, but one of the funniest scenes in the film is the one in which the Tramp goes to hold the girl's hand and winds up holding the hand of her beefy date, fluttering his eyelids at her all the while, completely oblivious. He moves again when he discovers his plunder, only to begin getting himself in trouble yet again. He ultimately manages to get himself into a fight right on the stage where the show is taking place, only to be moved yet again.
Charlie seems to be more vexed than usual with people in general in this film, which is understandable near the end when he gets seated next to a horribly aggravating fat kid, as the movie is reduced to a food fight, and the show gets the biggest applause after Charlie has gone on stage to put a pie in the face of the guy singing. It's pretty clear that Charlie is making a comment with this film about the quality of the average stage production in 1915, because all of the acts in the film are pretty bad. No wonder the Tramp's upset for so much of the film.
As is pretty traditional with these early Chaplin short films, A Night in the Show does not end with much of a conclusion, but rather with another comedy skit, the grand finale, if you will. This is by far the funniest scene in the film, in which the Tramp look-alike in the balcony takes a fire hose and proceeds to hose down everyone in the auditorium. What a great scene! There are some truly great laughs in that scene, although I remain unsure about why there was a fire hose in the middle of an auditorium. I'm sure I just don't know enough about the fire standards of 1915, but regardless of why it's there, it makes a great prop for the film.
A Night in the Show is definitely not one of the best or most memorable of Chaplin's early films, but the quality is there and it is, as they all are, a cinematic curiosity piece in that it was made by one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of the medium.
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