Charlie Chaplin (1916)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Slapstick, Chase Movie  |   Run Time - 30 min.  |   Countries - United States   |  
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The Floorwalker is one of Charlie Chaplin's lesser shorts. Through much-labored slapstick, Chaplin mugs his way through a comedy of sight gags, pratfalls, and mistaken identity as The Tramp. As always, Chaplin is a marvel to watch as he deftly wreaks havoc on the sales floor of a respectable department store. Lloyd Bacon has a choice part as the assistant store manager (or floorwalker) who looks suspiciously like The Tramp, a fact that will prove inconvenient for the real Tramp later in the film. Bacon and his stooge (played by Eric Campbell) are in the process of robbing the store, and when The Tramp comes through the doors to help himself to a shave, the case of mistaken identity begins. Chaplin and Bacon even perform a variation on the "missing mirror" gag that originated in vaudeville, and was most memorably used by the Marx Brothers in their classic film Duck Soup (1933), and before that in Alice Guy-Blaché's one-reel comedy His Double (1911). Many of the best gags center on an escalator that becomes the center of the action as the film nears its conclusion. For Chaplin's first film at Mutual, however, it is an uneven effort at best, with a slapped-together feeling; only the comic timing of Chaplin, Bacon, and Eric Campbell as an ensemble spark any real viewer response. That said, The Floorwalker is still a remarkable accomplishment for a young comedian on his way up, and a testament to the workmanlike ethic that pervaded all of Chaplin's two-reel comedies.