7.5/10
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16 user 11 critic

The Idle Class (1921)

A tramp sneaks into a upper class golf resort. The tramp meets a rich woman who is having an argument with her drunken husband. Complications arise when she mistakes the tramp for her husband.

Director:

(as Charlie Chaplin)

Writer:

(as Charlie Chaplin)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Tramp / Husband (as Charlie Chaplin)
...
Edna, Neglected Wife
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Storyline

The conflict here is between Charlie the wealthy and alcoholic husband and Charlie the Tramp: the idle rich and the idle poor. In the opening scene wealthy Edna descends from a Pullman car while the Tramp crawls out from under another one. At a fancy masquerade ball Edna's husband appears as a knight whose visor is stuck closed. The Tramp shows up, running from the law, and is mistaken for the husband. Edna finds the new "husband" more to her liking than the real one. When true identities are revealed, a fight breaks out and the Tramp is ejected. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Comedy

Certificate:

TV-G
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

25 September 1921 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Vanity Fair  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System) (re-issue)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles Chaplin underwent a bit of a creative block prior to making this film. In an attempt to generate some ideas for a new project, Chaplin strolled through the studio's prop building grabbing and playing with various objects. Ultimately, he stumbled upon a set of golf clubs and envisioned his character, the Tramp, playing golf. The incident sparked the creation of this film. See more »

Goofs

When the father-in-law smacks Charlie's doppelganger in their room, the feather falls off his armor helmet. When the father-in-law pulls him out of the room into the hall, the feather is back on the helmet. See more »

Quotes

Edna, Neglected Wife: I will occupy other rooms until you stop drinking.
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User Reviews

Distinct Classes
4 March 2004 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

The post-war period, until the depression, must have been a class-conscious period in America, with some people very rich and most others (eg., farmers) poor. Charlie is the tramp character so he's poor. The plot is said to have been developed by him after he wandered around the prop room and spotted a bag of golf clubs. The story is certainly simple enough. Chaplain finds himself on a golf course and a series of gags ensue, after which he's chased by a cop and runs into a mansion where a costume party is in progress. He's taken for the host, who is a ringer. The other guests believe that the host's tramp outfit is simply a costume for the party. The real host, meanwhile, is encased in a suit of armor whose visor has dropped and jammed shut so no one can see his face. Charlie gets out of it okay and ends the movie by kicking the security guard in the pants and running away.

To me, the funniest gag, in a movie filled with funny gags, has to do with Charlie as the real host. (He has a double role.) The high-class host is a drunk. In his natty evening dress, but without trousers -- don't ask -- he comes home to find a note from his wife. "I am taking up other quarters until you rid yourself of your drinking habit," says the note. Charlie reads it and slowly turns away from the camera and bends over a table, his shoulders racked with sobs. What remorse! But, no. When he turns again towards the camera we see he is matter-of-factly shaking a cocktail mixer! It's called a "garden path" joke, and it efficiently explodes our expectations.

It's hard to imagine how Chaplin could have found any humor in alcohol use, given his family history. His girl friend at the time, Edna Purviance, was to become bloated from alcohol abuse too.

Well, as I say, though, the story isn't much. It's really two stories: (1) the golf course sequence, and (2) the mixed identities at the costume party. Both of them are good. There's more slapstick in the second part and probably more gag continuity in the first.

I saw this only a few hours ago and I'm still laughing, enough to be compelled to add a description of one more joke. On the golf course, Charlie has hit a ball that lands in the open mouth of a fat man asleep on his back. As the fellow snores, the white ball appears and disappears in his mouth. How does Charlie manage to hit the ball again? He steps on the guy's belly, the ball pops a few feet up in the air, and he hits it in mid air using his golf club like a baseball bat. If the joke loses something in the course of its transposition into print, well, blame it on Charlie's "genius," in the original sense.

It's pretty consistently funny.


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