Thursday, May 17, 2012

Charlie Chaplin: The Idle Class (1921)


Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed and starred in this silent film, The Idle Class, released in 1921.

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Charlie Chaplin was the master at commenting on the social, economic and political issues of the day in a humorous way. Some stories stand the test of time.; and as with all good stories, this one has conflict and plays up on the issues surrounding identity and class.
The conflict here is between Charlie the wealthy and alcoholic husband and Charlie the Tramp: the idle rich and the idle poor. In the opening scene wealthy Edna descends from a Pullman car while the Tramp crawls out from under another one. At a fancy masquerade ball Edna's husband appears as a knight whose visor is stuck closed. The Tramp shows up, running from the law, and is mistaken for the husband. Edna finds the new "husband" more to her liking than the real one. When true identities are revealed, a fight breaks out and the Tramp is ejected.
—By Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>