The Immigrant (1917)

This may be cheating.

When I decided to start the DailyView before school let out for the summer, I knew there would be a bit of a challenge. In particular, Wednesday nights would be difficult. Wednesdays are new comic book days at the comic book shop that I visit and I like to go there immediately after getting out of school. Then, after that, many nights, I go to play cards with some of my teacher friends. This leaves a scant amount of time to watch a movie and do the write up for EYG.

While going through HBO Max, I discovered the list of Charlie Chaplin movies that were available and how they were all pretty short. This would be the answer to the problem. However, after selecting The Immigrant as this Wednesday’s movie, I realized that the film was only 33 minutes long, being considered a short film.

I wondered if this would invalidate the movie-a-day concept of the DailyView. I went back and looked at what I had written when I posted the details about the DailyView and there was nothing that specified about movie length. The qualifications I placed on myself were:

  • The movie is one that I have not seen all the way through before. I may have seen scenes or parts of the movie, but I have not seen it from beginning to end.
  • It is a movie that has been released prior to 2021

The Immigrant definitely fits each of those qualifications and so I proceeded to watch the silent film featuring the Tramp character that made Chaplin so famous and successful. It also allowed me to add a new decade to the DailyView, with the teens being represented. All of the remaining decades from 1917 to 2019 have been represented. 2020 will join eventually.

This film was written and directed by Charli Chaplin and he puts his skillful display of slapstick and visual humor on display once again. There are some wonderfully choreographed bits as the Tramp is coming to America on a steamship. He gets accused of being a thief along the way and ends up penniless.

He does meet another immigrant (Edna Purviance) who had lost her money. The Tramp snuck her his poker winnings, but gets accused of being a pickpocket. She clears his name with the people on the boat.

She returns in an extended scene in a restaurant where the Tramp, who found some money on the ground and had pocketed it only to have it fall out through a hole in his pocket, eats dinner with her and worries about how to pay the bill. This was only compounded when another customer was assaulted by the staff when he was short on the bill.

Chaplin is a master at this and he can milk humor out of many situations. It is impressive how funny he is without the use of words, using non-verbal clues and facial expressions. The few words on screen help deal with the story, but the Tramp is a fully fleshed out character with such little tools. Chaplin is a ton of fun.

Only two more Wednesdays to go before school is out….

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