Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Rink (1916) - Charles Chaplin

A full twenty years before Chaplin would wow audiences with his roller skating skills in that audacious scene in Modern Times, Chaplin wrote, directed and stared in this little gem. This two-reeler (or short film around the twenty minute mark to you and me), finds Chaplin working as a waiter who nips off to the roller rink during his lunch breaks. Like all these great comedy shorts the story is merely an excuse for the physical comedy. Chaplin causes chaos both in the dining area and kitchen of the restaurant, people being covered in food and all the typical things you'd expect. Highlight of this section of the film is Chaplin making a cocktail. The way he shakes his body instead of the cocktail shaker is the sort of gag you come to expect from him.

The main draw with this film though is seeing Chaplin up on his skates. He's a phenomenal skater but is even funnier at falling over. Watch him almost going arse over tit and tell me it didn't make you laugh. It had me in fits. The scene where he keeps bouncing off the out for the count fat woman, would be the best bit of the film if it wasn't for the end scene, which sees Chaplin skate out of the door of the rink and onto the streets of L.A., closely followed by a rollerskating mob. The best shot in The Rink is it's very last, Chaplin hanging onto the back of a car by his cane, tipping his hat to the audience and smiling like a man who knows he's just made another great film.

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