Caught in a Cabaret (1914)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Slapstick  |   Run Time - 23 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

While Charlie Chaplin is justifiably hailed as a genius of the cinema, the fact remains that many of his films, such as Caught in a Cabaret, are nothing more than amusing trifles that don't indicate the genius that was evident in his best known works. That's not a criticism of Chaplin or of his major pieces, merely an acknowledgement that much of what Chaplin created is disposable entertainment, and there's nothing to be ashamed of or to apologize for in that fact. Cabaret is good fun and provides plenty of laughs, but it is no way a great film, or even for that matter a very good film. The plot is rudimentary, the dialogue cards strain for laughs, and the editing is especially poor; the last flaw is unfortunate, as so much of the success of comedy, especially silent comedy, rests in timing and rhythm, and the editing here deadens a number of potential laughs. That said, Cabaret still has Chaplin, the irresistible Mabel Normand and the handy Chester Conklin, all of whom work very well together and who can make laughs out of even the simplest material. There's also Minta Durfee's curious "spearmint" dance, filled with so much posterior movement that it demonstrates how amusingly low down films could be before the Code set in.