The Bank (1915)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Slapstick  |   Run Time - 25 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Phil Posner

Charlie Chaplin's 10th Essanay film marks a further development for him in story construction, gag development and the use of pathos along with physical comedy. Chaplin enters the bank importantly, strolls down a staircase and opens a large safe. He emerges carrying a mop and bucket and dons his janitor's uniform. He wanders into the lobby/reception area and accidentally puts his soaking mop into the top hat of a bond salesman, (Lawrence A. Bowes) who's waiting for the arrival of the Bank President. Hitting the salesman and a bank worker (Leo White) with the wet mop, he's chased away to the back office where he finds fellow janitor Billy Armstrong with whom a series of minor battles occur. Edna Purviance, a stenographer, arrives at work with a birthday present, a tie, for a cashier whose name is also Charles, Carl Stockdale. She types a note: "To Charles with love from Edna." Chaplin finds the note and tie and assumes they're for him, and it's clear he loves Purviance. He brings her a bouquet of flowers and leaves a note "To Edna with love, Charlie." The bank president arrives and rejects the bond salesman's pitch and the angry salesman vows revenge. As the salesman stands dazed, Chaplin, told to mail a letter, indicates that he doesn't look well, takes his pulse and tells him to stick out his tongue, on which Chaplin moistens the postage stamp. The Cashier comes in to thank Purviance for the tie and tells her that it wasn't he who left the flowers, but Charlie the Janitor. Angry, Purviance calls Chaplin a fool and, unaware that he's watching through the door, throws the flowers into a trash basket. Crushed, Chaplin retrieves the flowers, goes back downstairs to the vault and sits down to rest. Shortly afterward, the bond salesman along with four seedy crooks enter the bank. Two of them go upstairs and see the president, Purviance and the Cashier counting money. When Purviance and Charles head downstairs to the vault, they hold up the president. The other three intercept Charles and Purviance downstairs. At the first opportunity, Charles pushes Purviance over and runs away, but he's held at gunpoint by one of the crooks as the other tussles with the president. Meanwhile her screams have awakened Chaplin and he rescues her, kicking three of the crooks into the safe and locking it as Purviance collapses. Carrying her over one shoulder, he climbs the stairs and rescues the cashier by disarming the crook. He then takes care of the other thief, rescuing the president. When the police have the robbers in custody, Chaplin is congratulated by the president. He wanders into the office and takes the flowers out of his coat. Purviance enters and picks up the flowers, smiling, and the look of love and hope on Chaplin's face is truly angelic. They embrace, but just then the camera crossfades -- it was all a dream, and Chaplin awakens in the vault kissing a mop. As the picture fades, he wanders off screen holding the flowers.




flowers, janitor, robbery