In a hotel lobby an inebriated Charlie runs into an elegant lady, gets tied hup in her dog's leash, and falls down. He later runs into her in the hotel corridor, locked out of her room. ... See full summary »
Charlie and another man compete in trying to help a young lady cross a muddy street. The rival finds a wooden plank which Charlie takes from him. They fight over an umbrella belonging to ... See full summary »
Charlie is a clumsy waiter in a cheap cabaret, suffering the strict orders from his boss. He'll meet a pretty girl in the park, pretending to be a fancy ambassador, despite the jealousy of her fiancée.
The key to understanding "The Adding Machine" is understanding that the original play (on which it is based) is not about life, but about business. Like Willy Loman's in "Death of a Salesman," Mr. Zero's name is a description of the man himself; he's a zero, a nothing. His reward for years of faithful service to the company is that his job is eliminated, even when he is clearly too old to go out and get another job. He's just a number to them. But this brutal reality continues in the hereafter. Following his execution, Zero finds himself in the Elysian Fields, where he can do whatever he wants. Or can he? Told that he has to go back (to life), he protests that he's done his time. He is then asked, "Do you suppose they go to all the expense of making a soul just to use it once?" Even in Eternity, Zero is a nothing, a thing to be used over and over until he's good for nothing but the scrap heap. "The Adding Machine" is a very human story, direct in its condemnation of the brutality of the business world, yet still disarming--and distracting--enough to be funny. Then again, perhaps the final laugh is on us......
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