After amusements working in a restaurant, Charlie uses his lunch break to go roller skating. Mr. Stout makes advances toward the unwilling Edna (whose father and Mrs. Stout had earlier carried on in the restaurant). After a roller skate ballet, Charlie (now as Sir Cecil Seltzer) is invited to a party at Edna's. All the "couples", including a new partner for Mr. Stout. show up. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
When Charlie goes to lunch, he changes out of his waiter's coat and tie into his "Little Tramp" coat and vest. When he buttons his vest, the buttons and button holes are out of alignment. But when he walks through the restaurant and onto the sidewalk, the buttons and button holes are properly aligned. See more »
We all know about Charlie Chaplin's wit, precision and recklessness when it came to tumbles and pratfalls, but who knows about his delicate grace and balletic poise? The Rink is the earliest of his pictures where he really gets to demonstrate this side to his talent, as he whirls effortlessly across the room with elegance as well as skill.
Does this display of dexterity conflict with the character of crude and clumsy tramp? You would think so, but it doesn't. True, Charlie's function in his own pictures is to spread mayhem wherever he goes, and now that the character was familiar this premise needed no explanation. The Rink contains some fine examples of how Chaplin makes himself the chaotic centre of attention without actually hogging the foreground. In the early scenes when he is waiting tables he often appears bustling about in the background, but we recognise him from his exaggerated comical style of movement, and everything is arranged and timed so that we focus on the trail of destruction he leaves behind him. And yet Charlie himself is immune to all this. He dances through the world leaving others stumbling or egg-spattered in his wake without getting so much as a scratch on himself except when the big-time pratfall is required, which will always be spectacular. Looked at this way, it may not make logical sense for him to be an ace on skates, but it does fit in with the general style of his comic persona.
But it isn't all about Charlie, and one of the best things about his Mutual pictures is the time he took to showcase his regular co-stars. In The Rink we have the mighty Eric Campbell, looking decidedly ridiculous with his massive body rolling around on skates. We also get the odd sight of Campbell having a go at "flirting", although I should remind readers that popping your cheek doesn't do it for most women these days. This is probably the most prominent role in a Chaplin film for James T. Kelley, who does a good job as a rather silly father-in-law type. John Rand, perhaps the longest-suffering butt of Charlie's antagonistic streak, gets a few more comical comeuppances. And we also have relative newcomer Henry Bergman doing a superb dame act, looking very convincing but still making the most of the rotund ungainliness that was Bergman's speciality.
And of course, there is Edna Purviance. Edna had been given disappointingly small parts in the Mutual films (with the exception of The Vagabond) as Chaplin concentrated more on prop gags and winding up Eric Campbell than on romantic angles. Here that trend is reversed and she gets a proper role in the story that prefigures the fully-fledged romantic comedies that would eventually become Chaplin's masterpieces. She is introduced in the first scene with a memorable close-up, demonstrating that her character is important, and Chaplin makes the effort to give her some significance to the story, as oppose to simply having her float around as the obligatory heroine. It's nice to see Ms Purviance back in the limelight, to see her naturalistic charm and acting talents. Chaplin really needed someone like her to complement that sense of grace and beauty that his pictures were beginning to acquire.
But let us not forget the all-important statistic
Number of kicks up the arse: 4 (2 for, 2 against)
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