The Idle Class

The Idle Class ★★★★

Catching Up with The Tramp Mini Project

Consistently fun little two-reeler featuring some of Chaplin's best doubling, playing both the scruffy & lovable Tramp and an emotionally distant alcoholic Husband to Edna Purviance's Neglected Wife (literally her credit). Reel one is Husband failing to pick up Neglected Wife at the train while the Tramp goes golfing, and reel two everybody goes to a fancy party. Lots of great gags, most of which worked for me, but here are some favs:

Husband is trying to get ready to pick up Neglected Wife at the train station, but his excessive primping is making him late. He can't seem to work out how to brush his hair: he picks up the brush; yes, simple enough, but what's this? He still has his hat on! Alright, take the hat off (placing it over the brush), but now where did the brush go? Perplexing! Put the hat back on, I guess—oh, there's the brush! etc. ad infinitum. This is the kind of dad-joke humor that I live for.

The central gag of the second reel involves Husband getting stuck in a suit of armor. You see, Neglected Wife left him after she'd had enough of his neglect, and as he reads her letter telling him this, we see him begin to shake. But as he slowly turns around, we see he's not shaking with sobs, no! He's merely shaking up some cocktails! He proceeds to get a little too drunk, and, after putting on his suit of armor of course (of course), he sneezes the visor closed and can't get it open again. Neglected Wife misrecognizes The Tramp as her Husband—naturally, they look shockingly alike!—and some classic sitcom misunderstandings ensue.

There are also all these small little flourishes that I associate with Chaplin, like: This is before golf tees were invented, apparently, because the way they hit their golf balls is by dumping a small pile of sand on the ground and placing the ball on top of that. But the Tramp brought his own sand! Artisan sand. The best of the best. But what's this? It appears he forgot his ball? Oh well—and he scoops the sand back into his pocket lmfao

Also, obviously, there's something to be said about the film's ideas about class—about the bourgeoisie as the titular "Idle Class," and about the creative ingenuity of Chaplin's decidedly proletarian Tramp against the careless neglect of his supposedly aristocratic drunk Husband—but, you know, I think it's all clear enough already.

Charlie Chaplin | Criterion Channel

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