The Second Sunday Intertitle: A Successful Retreat

Charles Reisner’s street tough may be a plug-ugly but he’s still some sort of gentleman, so Edna’s intervention has the power to stop him pulverising Charlie. With a bit more persuasion she gets them to actually shake hands. And everyone agrees not to notice that his arms have gotten more padded since his first appearance.

But all this peace-making comes to naught when Charlie takes too literally the invitation to smite the chap on the cheek, and follows up with a brick to the skull. (Masonry firms have been struggling to turn a profit since Chaplin left Keystone.)

Weird continuity here — Edna vanishes, Charlie and Charles teleport into the middle of the street. I wonder what was deleted? The cut is so wrong that even the unconscious kop, who has every business still being prone on the ground, seems like a surprise, a mistake. Only an intertitle prevents this lacunae being completely intolerable, so here it is:

Obviously there’s no reason to say that, except to cover the break in the action.

Then fluidity is restored with a nice bit where Charles keeps swiping at Charlie and missing, and Charlie keeps braining Charles with the brick. It becomes its own thing. It’s a bit like one of Terence Hill’s routines — “I can slap you before you draw your gun, AND draw my gun, or steal yours.”

There has definitely been some kind of problem in Chaplin’s mind with the story here, though, because now Edna reappears with Jackie in her arms, and he’s suddenly sick. He was fine a minute ago. The plot has been slightly patched together here to get to the next bit, but the next bit’s good, so it doesn’t much matter. As Sidney Lumet said of THE GREAT DICTATOR, “Nothing has to be perfect.” Words to live by.

The trick is, being so good that you don’t need to be perfect.


2 Responses to “The Second Sunday Intertitle: A Successful Retreat”

  1. David Ehrenstein Says:

    Sidney Lumet was a child actor. He was in the original Broadway production of “Dead End”

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