Combustible Celluloid
Search for Posters
Own it:
Search for streaming:
NetflixHuluGoogle PlayGooglePlayCan I
With: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Syd Chaplin, Henry Bergman, Charles Reisner, Albert Austin, Jack Wilson, Tom Wilson, Loyal Underwood, Tom Terriss, Tom Wood, Mack Swain
Written by: Charles Chaplin
Directed by: Charles Chaplin
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 119
Date: 09/01/1959

The Chaplin Revue (1959)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Tramp of Approval

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

As part of their Chaplin Collection, Warner Brothers has released this excellent 2-disc set that preserves seven of Charles Chaplin's best short films, and presents three of them in the context of a 1959 feature-length compilation film. At the end of the teens, Chaplin's short films began to grow more elaborate and more expensive as he elevated toward making feature films. These final seven (plus a bonus short, The Bond) show him at his best. Two of them (A Dog's Life and Shoulder Arms) are longer, at 3 reels (about 30 minutes) and The Pilgrim runs a full 4 reels (about 40 minutes).

A Dog's Life (1918) foreshadows some of the delicate pathos that Chaplin would later deal with in his first feature film, "The Kid" (1921). The Tramp rescues a puppy and befriends him, but now has two mouths to feed. Shoulder Arms (1918) is one of Chaplin's finest films, showcasing the Tramp as a soldier stuck in a trench during World War I. The best gag has him firing at the enemy and marking down his killings with a piece of chalk. When one of them fires back, he quickly rubs out the previous mark. Sunnyside (1919) was one of Chaplin's few financial failures, but it features some beautiful moments, such as a dream sequence in which he dances with some wood nymphs. The film places the Tramp as a jack-of-all-trades at a countryside hotel.

A Day's Pleasure (1919) is the most typical of the set. It depicts the Tramp and his family taking a ride in a rickety car, then on a rocking and rolling boat on which everyone gets seasick. The Idle Class (1921) features the Tramp in two roles, as the Tramp, and as a hard-drinking socialite who is about to lose his wife due to his carelessness. The two Chaplins get mixed up at a costume party, but the best sequence comes on the golf course with the poor Tramp trying to get his hands on a free ball. Pay Day (1922) has the Tramp working on a fairly elaborate set, as a construction worker on a half-finished building. Chaplin gets plenty of mileage out of the elevator and of a trick shot which makes it look like he's catching and stacking bricks tossed from below.

Made the same year as his flop feature A Woman of Paris, The Pilgrim (1923) ought to be considered among Chaplin's feature films. He plays an escaped convict who adopts the clothing of a clergyman, and (of course) finds himself having to fulfill a clergyman's duties. Jokes come up as he keeps equating his past with his present (the church resembles a courtroom) and when he gives a silent sermon, telling the story of David and Goliath in mime.

The 1959 feature release The Chaplin Revue combined A Day's Pleasure, Sunnyside and The Idle Class with new musical scores (by Chaplin) as well as bits of narration by Chaplin in-between. The third film also included a strange county & western song, "Bound for Texas" performed by Matt Munro, on its soundtrack. The disc allows the viewer to watch the films individually or as a feature. Chosen individually, each film ends with an endless series of warning menus in several different languages; they're remote control blocked, so the only option is to stop the disc and re-start it. Otherwise, the disc comes with the half-reel The Bond, a wartime effort to get viewers to buy war bonds, as well as the deleted footage from Sunnyside that has already been featured on The Great Dictator DVD. David Robinson provides an introduction, and there are home movies, photo galleries, poster galleries, trailers and another short, How to Make Movies (1918). Overall, this is one of the most cost-effective DVDs in the series, as it has twice the amount of actual movies as the other discs.

Movies Unlimtied