Why Charlie Chaplin is Laughing All the Way to “The Bank”

The Bank Chaplin

Today is the anniversary of the release date of the Charlie Chaplin comedy The Bank (1915).

Essentially, a much improved revisitation of his earlier The New Janitor, in The Bank Chaplin plays a lowly cleaning person at a bank who loves a beautiful secretary played by Edna Purviance. When his note and flowers to her are (rather cruelly) rejected we genuinely feel for him. Later, when he redeems himself by thwarting a bank robbery, winning Edna’s heart in the process, we suspect it is too good to be true and it is. It was all a dream, the cheapest of devices and one to which Chaplin resorts all too frequently.  But the film has a terrific shape to it – it still plays, which is why today, along with The Tramp it is one of Chaplin’s most frequently shown early comedies.

For more on silent and slapstick film history, including Chaplin shorts like “The Bank” don’t miss my book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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