Charlie works on a farm from 4am to late at night. He gets his food on the run (milking a cow into his coffee, holding an chicken over the frying pan to get fried eggs). He loves the ... See full summary »
Olive Ann Alcorn
Charlie competes with his fellow shop assistant. He is fired by the pawnbroker and rehired. He nearly destroys everything in the shop and himself. He helps capture a burglar. He destroys a client's clock while examining it in detail.
Poor Charlie lives in a vacant lot. He tries to get a job but when he gets to the head of the employment line the jobs are gone. Back "home" he rescues Scraps, a bitch being attacked by other strays. Together they manage to steal some sausages from a lunch wagon. They enter a dance hall where Edna is a singer and unwilling companion to the clientele. He is thrown out when he can't pay. Back "home" Scraps digs up a money-filled wallet buried by crooks. They return to the dance hall to find Edna fired. The wallet goes back and forth between Charlie and the crooks. Charlie, Edna and Scraps end up very happily.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
This was Charlie Chaplin's first film for First National, and with his pictures there, he could create movies of longer, or varied, length, rather than the two-reelers he was obliged to churn out before. His Mutual shorts were a vast improvement over his previous work, but watching them I'd sometimes get the sense that his ideas required more time to elaborate, to fully realize, or unfold. The hilarity of the gags in "A Dog's Life" result from this newly acquired freedom to expand his films.
I don't think it's one of Chaplin's most important works, or one of his best, but "A Dog's Life" is very funny and left me in high spirits. The crying set piece was hilarious. As well, Chaplin continued to use props and settings to his comedic advantage, such as with the missing boards and the door of his fenced home when he eludes a policeman in the beginning of the film.
Perhaps, the most interesting aspect of this one is the elaborate pantomime that goes on. The creation of the world within a silent film often created problems for lesser filmmakers on what the role of sound is within that world. There is obviously sound in the world of "A Dog's Life", but the tramp continually ignores it and oft prefers to use pantomime to express himself--or others, as in the elaborate scene using his hands. This demonstrated a lot of thought on Chaplin's part, and it's something that could be done only in the silent era. For all the comic genius in America at the time, the fact that the clowns couldn't talk shouldn't be overlooked, for it was full of advantages.
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