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The Cure (1917)

 -  Short | Comedy  -  16 April 1917 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 1,859 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 8 critic

An alcoholic checks into a health spa and his antics promptly throw the establishment into chaos.

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Title: The Cure (1917)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
The Inebriate (as Charlie Chaplin)
...
Eric Campbell ...
The Man with the Gout
Henry Bergman ...
Masseur
John Rand ...
Sanitarium Attendant
James T. Kelley ...
Sanitarium Attendant
Albert Austin ...
Sanitarium Attendant
Frank J. Coleman ...
Head of Sanitarium
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Storyline

Charlie goes to a spa to dry out, but he takes a trunk of liquor with him. He tangles with another's gouty foot in a revolving door. Later he thinks the gouty man is making love signs to him (he doesn't Edna, the real object of the man's efforts), so he signs back. He interpets a massage to be a wrestling match. When management throws his liquor into the fountain, when flow the healthful waters, everyone gets drunk. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Comedy

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 April 1917 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Water Cure  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (restored)

Sound Mix:

Color:

| (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Outtakes show that the original premise was to have Charles Chaplin play one of the employees at the clinic, but switched the roles with John Rand (who was to play the inebriate) after an uninspired performance. Chaplin himself specialized in drunken characters in the English music hall where he grew up. See more »

Goofs

When the Man With the Gout (Eric Campbell) falls into the spa well and struggles underwater, it is a stunt man that is struggling. Eric Campbell is one of the people who pull the stunt man out. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
The Inebriate: [closing title card] Forgive me! That well was full of liquor! Please don't.
See more »

Connections

Featured in 100 Years at the Movies (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Good for what ails you: one of Charlie's best!
2 October 2005 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

Measured in terms of sheer belly-laughs The Cure may well be the funniest movie Charlie Chaplin ever made. Not one moment is given over to sentimentality about unrequited love, childhood trauma, poverty or anything of the sort; this time around, Chaplin is single-minded in his drive to make us laugh, and he achieves his goal with ruthless and exhilarating efficiency.

The story's setting may require a bit of explanation for younger viewers. At the time this film was made there were a number of well-known health resorts in the U.S. and Europe built around mineral springs. It was fashionable for middle- and upper-class people to spend a week or two at these spas to address whatever health problems they might be struggling with, for it was believed that mineral water cured or at least alleviated a variety of ailments. The resorts were visited by well-to-do patients afflicted with everything from rheumatism, gout, or polio to chronic alcoholism, and someone in the latter category who went to a spa to get clean and sober was said to be "taking the cure."

When Charlie arrives at the spa that is our setting, pushed in a wheeled deck-chair by a uniformed attendant and obviously still tipsy, we know right away that despite the familiar mustache he's not the Little Tramp we usually encounter. Here, though slightly disheveled, Charlie sports a dapper ensemble of light jacket, straw boater, and spotted tie, indicating that he's a respectable bourgeois citizen who has come to this place-- probably at the insistence of family or friends --to dry out. It's soon apparent that he has no intention of changing his ways, however, for his wardrobe trunk is full of booze and he wastes no time in refreshing himself. When an attendant tries to ply him with mineral water he reacts with disgust, and after taking a sip rushes back to his room to wash the taste out of his mouth with liquor. Just to demonstrate that he's not entirely a wastrel, however, Charlie gallantly rescues a young lady (Edna Puviance) from the unwelcome attentions of an obnoxious man (Eric Campbell), and even sobers up long enough to go for a massage and a very brief dip in the spa's pool. Eventually, Charlie's stash of liquor is discovered by the resort's manager and inadvertently dumped into the spring. Soon, everyone in the place except for Charlie and Edna is drunk and disorderly, and Charlie must once again come to Edna's aid.

The great sequences in this comedy begin almost immediately when Charlie confronts a revolving door and has his first run-in with Eric Campbell, whose unpleasant personality determines that his gouty foot will be fair game for brutality thereafter. Campbell, who wears an especially nasty-looking beard, has a great moment when he appears behind Edna in the lobby, leering at her through a curtain like a crazed goblin. Things get a little risqué when Charlie misinterprets Eric's flirty gestures as intended for himself, but the real comic highpoint comes when Charlie heads for the pool and must fend off a beefy masseur (Henry Bergman). This scene is absolutely hilarious no matter how many times you see it, and stands with the best work of Chaplin's career.

Perhaps the synopsis of The Cure will sound distasteful to anyone who hasn't seen the film; and granted, attitudes towards substance abuse have changed over time. I maintain that Chaplin was well aware of the seriousness of his subject matter-- his own father died young as a result of alcoholism --and that he did not take it lightly. The true subject of this film was the contemporary fashion for health resorts, and much of the humor derives from poking fun at the proponents of the spring's curative powers. We see just enough of the spa's administrative staff to get a sense of their self-righteousness, a well-meaning but pompous attitude suggesting that they know all the answers and hold the key to health and happiness. Charlie with his trunk-full of booze is a dangerously subversive element in this atmosphere, and it's his (almost accidental) overthrow of authority that's funny and exhilarating.

The Cure is beautifully staged, expertly performed, and hilarious. Where health and happiness are concerned I'd say that viewing it is as restorative as the spring waters touted by the resort's staff in the film: it's good and good for you.


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