After causing havoc on the sales floor Charlie goes to the office floor. There he runs into the store inspector (who looks exactly like him) who has just robbed the safe and knocked out the... See full summary »
After causing havoc on the sales floor Charlie goes to the office floor. There he runs into the store inspector (who looks exactly like him) who has just robbed the safe and knocked out the manager. Charlie thinks he is in front of a mirror till he notices he holds a stock and his "image" the bag of loot. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is the first picture Charlie Chaplin made at Mutual studios. After a year-long maturing period at Essanay, he had at last set off in search of greater creative freedom and vastly inflated salaries. This is precisely what Mutual gave him.
The most obvious difference between the Floorwalker and the shorts that went before it is the level of confidence and cinematic professionalism Chaplin now displays. There is a lengthy opening sequence before the little tramp even appears, establishing the antagonists and the scam in which Charlie will later become embroiled. Eric Campbell is introduced with a formidable close-up, giving him a more menacing and memorable entrance. There's also a bit of bold cross-cutting, some of which becomes a joke in itself. For example, we cut back-and-forth from Albert Austin tussling with the essentially harmless Charlie, while behind his back a gang of thieves rob the store blind. That particular gag also shows his willingness to sometimes move the camera away from himself, making his little tramp the cause of the comedy but not the focus of it. These were all techniques Chaplin had used before, but never quite to this extent or with this much bravura.
With a new studio came new supporting actors, and here we see the introduction of two very important figures in the Chaplin career. Most noticeable of these was the stupendous Eric Campbell, who fulfilled in the Mutual films the role of the bully. Campbell's appeal works on the old adage of "the bigger they come the harder they fall", but he's also a wonderfully expressive comedy character, all his movements looking comically exaggerated because of his size. The floorwalker also marks the debut of Albert Austin, who does a similar job to that of Billy Armstrong in the Essanays, that is, a lanky twerp for Charlie to wind up. He makes a good impression here, tumbling helplessly and striving to maintain his dignity. Fortunately, Chaplin brought across some of his best collaborators from the Essanay days, but Leo White and even Edna Purviance get a bit lost among all the new faces here. Honourable mentions go to Charlotte Mineau and Lloyd Bacon, both of whom had bit parts in a few Essanay pictures, now appearing in meatier roles.
In spite of its technical polish and auspicious debuts, it has to be said that the Floorwalker is one of the less entertaining Mutual pictures. It has its moments (surely the best of which is Charlie's "mirror-image" routine with Lloyd Bacon, repeated years later by the Marx brothers in Duck Soup), but there is bit too much going on and a few too many characters, with not enough high quality comedy in between. Chaplin would have to do a little better than this to justify his hefty new pay packet.
Still, let us not forget that all-important statistic Number of kicks up the arse: 6 (3 for, 3 against)
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