Today is the anniversary of the release date Charlie Chaplin’s last two-reel short, Pay Day (1922)
Pay Day resembles another late Chaplin short A Day’s Pleasure (1919) in placing his Little Fellow in a fairly everyday situation. In this one he is not a tramp, but a working stiff with a Mrs. at home. He works hard all day at a construction site and then drinks up all his pay, having several One A.M. style drunken adventures on his way home. It’s the kind of setting more associated with some of his contemporaries, but Chaplin livens it up with many fresh, original gags. The most memorable perhaps is the way the Little Fellow is able to catch and lay thrown bricks with impossible speed, a segment that was staged and filmed in reverse. Another favorite section has him filching an entire lunch quite innocently. His co-workers keep putting their food down on the construction site’s elevator, which keeps delivering it to where Charlie is sitting, almost as though he were psychically pushing the buttons himself.
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For more on show biz history, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.