Charlie Chaplin in “Those Love Pangs”
In this comedy, it’s rutting season. In the opening section Charlie and Chester Conklin compete for the affections of their pretty landlady (Peggy Page). Then they go to the park, where Chester hooks up with a girl and begins making out in no time. Charlie is flabbergasted — that guy gets a girl and I can’t??? Then he picks out another girl for himself. Unfortunately she’s there with her boyfriend. Charlie tries various ways to get him out of the picture. A brick on the sconce perhaps? In the end he falls asleep in a movie theatre, causes a riot, and is thrown through the movie screen.
The movie is chock full of gags. Charlies stabs Chester with a fork at the dinner table. Grabs his neck with his cane. Pushes a dude in a duck pond. Chester and Charlie accidentally kiss each other. In one scene, Charlie gesticulates with his feet when he talks. This movie is such a cut above the standard comedy product of 1914 in terms of gag density that I can imagine audiences of the day totally talking about the experience of seeing this film on their way home from the theatre, and telling their friends about it. Chaplin was constantly setting the comedy bar higher, for himself and for everyone else in the industry.
To learn more about comedy film history please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc
To learn about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.