Natascha, a White Russian countess, stows away on a luxury liner at Hong Kong, determined to seek a new life in America. Natascha hides in the cabin of Ogden Mears, a millionaire diplomat, ... See full summary »
When Charlie escapes from prison he dons a preacher's clothes. By mistake he becomes the new minister for the town of Devil's Gulch. Later, discovered as the convict, the sheriff takes Charlie to the Mexican border where he can choose to return, a convict, or face Mexican bandits at war with each other. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As was now his tradition when leaving a studio, Charlie Chaplin here begins his final short feature for First National with an escape from prison. It also appears he was vengefully trying to bankrupt the studio, with lots of fancy sets, costumes and location shooting in what is one of his larger scale short pictures.
But what really makes The Pilgrim stand out is that, like his earliest works for First National, A Dog's Life and Shoulder Arms, it is really a concerted effort, with all the breadth, sincerity and care in production of his full-length features. After some experimentation in The Idle Class and Pay Day the comic now returns to his roots, pushing pure pantomime to its limits. Sequences like his acting out of the story of David and Goliath or little asides such as his gestures describing features of people in a photo album demand the intention and intelligence of the audience, and are very rewarding gags as a result. The business with the hat in the cake is also a great routine, a classic Chaplin situation of the chaos caused by the little tramp becoming bigger than the tramp himself.
Chaplin regulars such as Henry Bergman make only fleeting appearances in The Pilgrim. One time stalwart Albert Austin, now busy as a director, does not feature at all. Making up for this deficit however is one of the more substantial appearances by Charlie's brother Syd Chaplin. His pompous husband makes a great counter-foil for the tramp his looks of horror and indignant gestures are priceless and he was really strong enough to have become a recurring character in his own right. Sadly this was Syd's last appearance in one of his brother's films.
The nicest thing about The Pilgrim is that it is a great return to stories driven by the little tramp's character something that had been wavering in the last couple of Chaplin shorts. Many of the gags stem from his status as a plucky fugitive, and his complete inappropriateness yet clever bluffing in the role of a preacher. Once again we have a rounded yet unfulfilled love for Edna Purviance, and his redemption for her sake is given a credible build-up. With his last ever short, Chaplin demonstrates that these little movies where he had honed his craft were far from idle throwaways.
We end with the all-important statistic Number of kicks up the arse: 2 (2 for).
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