Charlie and his boss have difficulties just getting to the house they are going to wallpaper. The householder is angry because he can't get breakfast and his wife is screaming at the maid ...
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Charlie and his boss have difficulties just getting to the house they are going to wallpaper. The householder is angry because he can't get breakfast and his wife is screaming at the maid as they arrive. The kitchen gas stove explodes, and Charlie offers to fix it. The wife's secret lover arrives and is passed off as the workers' supervisor, but the husband doesn't buy this and fires shots. The stove explodes violently, destroying the house.Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Restoration work was carried out at Lobster Films laboratory in 2014. Scanned at L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory.
Work (1915) has been restored by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Lobster Films in collaboration with Film Preservation Associates, from a nitrate fine grain preserved at The Museum of Modern Art and a nitrate print preserved at the British Film Institute.
Some fragments were added from a nitrate print in the Blakhawk Collection preserved at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Intertitles have been reconstructed from re-release prints of 1920's. See more »
Footage shot for this film was later used in Triple Trouble (1918), a patchwork film compiled by Essanay after Chaplin had left the studio. See more »
Charlie Chaplin, in what was probably his most anarchic phase, was now basing many of his short comedies around a normal, "straight" setting, into which his little tramp character could blunder, causing mayhem as he went. Work is probably the most carefully constructed and effective in this respect.
The picture begins with a couple of extremely regular shots establishing the house in which most of the action is going to take place, and introducing us to its prim middle-class residents. Everything appears very formal, all composed of straight lines and neat areas of black and white. We then suddenly cut to Charlie chugging down the street with his boss's cart behind him. Everything in this shot has to do with disorder, with wonky telegraph poles, extras cutting across the frame, not to mention the ramshackle contraption the tramp is pulling. When we arrive at the harmonious household, the camera set-ups from the opening shots remain the same, but gradually the tramp's chaos begins to spread. The neatness and formality disappear while the mess and clutter builds up as, one by one, the rooms (and their occupants) are thrown into disarray.
Of course, Chaplin's popularity was not just founded on his comical capers. His satirical streak, here in full swing, would have struck a chord with many in his audience. I have certainly had a fair few employers who take after Chaplin's boss, and it's great fun to see this kind of character lampooned. And as in most of Chaplin's shorts there is a heart amidst the havoc, here in the form of the "sad story" scene. Even then, Chaplin wisely keeps the comedy going and stops the moment from getting too serious and saccharine.
Work is by no means the most hilarious of the Essanays, and certainly not the best developed in storyline, but on its own terms it is a pure work of genius, and positive proof that Charlie Chaplin was not just a funny little man. When it came to film-making, he knew exactly what he was doing.
And last but not least, the all-important statistic – Number of kicks up the arse: 2 (2 against)
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