Charlie burns a count's trousers while ironing them and is fired. The tailor finds an invitation to dinner at Miss Moneybags and goes in place of the count. Charlie goes to the kitchen of ... See full summary »
Charlie burns a count's trousers while ironing them and is fired. The tailor finds an invitation to dinner at Miss Moneybags and goes in place of the count. Charlie goes to the kitchen of the same house; he is attracted to the cook, and so are the butler and a policeman. Once discovered by the tailor-count, Charlie must pretend to be the count's secretary. The real count shows up. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the cinema of Charlie Chaplin, silly facial hair was like a kind of comedy insurance. If all Charlie's antagonists looked suitably ridiculous, the pratfalls would fall that little bit harder and the laughs would be that little bit louder. The Count is a good picture for silly facial hair, from the flapping fuzz of the band leader, to the upturned curiosity of Count Broko, to the wispy behemoth adorning Eric Campbell. Chaplin's reliance on beards and moustaches here gives a clue as to the fact that this is not among his best Mutual Pictures.
It appears he was aiming for here a story of broader social goings-on, with a plot that is funny in itself as Chaplin and Campbell double-cross each other, both trying to pretend to be a count so they can get in with Edna Purviance, until the real count turns up, and mayhem ensues. It's a good idea, but Chaplin is at this stage focusing on milking each scene for potential gags, rather than making the whole thing flow seamlessly. Consequently The Count has a rather disjointed feel, lurching awkwardly from a boss/apprentice set-up of the kind with which Chaplin normally sustained a whole picture, to an elicit meeting between Chaplin and some frumpy cook, to the rather contrived situation in which counts are impersonated. Neither the plot nor the tramp character really seems consistent, and it runs almost like a Charlie Chaplin clip show.
But Chaplin was nevertheless at the top of his game as far as pure comedy went, and there are some of these "clips" are pretty good. The opening scene is a great example of the triumph of absurd ideas over broad slapstick, with Charlie as a tailor who measures a woman's ear, smile and finger. There's a very smooth and pretty ballroom scene, punctuated by a few arse-kicking gags. In the frantic finale there is a rather subtle but very funny juxtaposition, as the band continues to play gently in the background as the other characters run around and fight each other in the foreground. Luckily composer Carl Davis, in his new score for the Mutual films, picks up on this and keeps going with the sedate band music rather than a typical chase theme. And those beards, backups though they may be, do work as a touch of comic sparkle.
So yet again, we come to the all-important statistic Number of kicks up the arse: 9 (4 for, 5 against)
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