After a night on the town, Charlie comes home to the house where he is staying, drunk and unable to find his key. For the next twenty minutes he staggers into, out of, and through the house in an inebriated confrontation with the house itself. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
In 1916 the Mutual Films company released eight Chaplin pictures, highlighting a marked decrease in his output but also a marked increase in the quality. This was a theme that was to continue throughout the rest of his career, as the following year he would release half as many again, though with increased results. Come the mid 20s and Chaplin's down to just one feature every three to five years, though most of them classics.
As for the Mutual output in 1916, then despite the increased artistry, many of them are still a couple of steps away from "Chaplin as genius". Indeed, while well staged, shorts like "The Floorwalker" and "The Fireman" are really just an extended series of people being kicked repeatedly up the backside. One A.M breaks that mould, an upturn in quality that would continue into the equally brilliant "The Pawnbroker" and "The Rink" two more shorts that would showcase Chaplin as a tremendously gifted acrobat. "Behind The Screen" was another upturn in quality from this run, a film that combined a witty deconstruction of the slapstick genre along with a daring gay gag, quite shocking for 1916. But it was the stunts that were most notable for the year - if not quite death-defying, then certainly serious injury defying.
One A.M. is another foray into Chaplin doing a non-Tramp character, this time a drunken aristocrat. While Charlie's immense physical gifts can be seen in most of the films of the age, many of them are of a type, in particular him falling backwards onto his shoulder blades. By marked contrast, then many of the stunts seen in One A.M. are truly extraordinary, combining both substantial physical danger along with witty innovation. A virtual solo piece, it's basically one joke extended for twenty minutes, yet it's a very good joke given enormous invention and considerable charm. A stand out of the year that culminated in the classic "The Rink".
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