The Property Man (1914)

Genres - Comedy  |   Run Time - 8 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Phil Posner

In Charlie Chaplin's 21st Keystone film, Chaplin is the prop man and general factotum at a vaudeville house. The artists arrive backstage as Chaplin swigs beer from a pitcher, refusing to share with his elderly, hunchbacked assistant, whom he mistreats throughout. The headliners are the Goo-Goo Sisters, with whom Chaplin flirts outrageously, while hiding his beer in his roomy pants, only to be undone when he bends to pick up one of the ladies' purses. Garlico the Strong Man and his assistant arrive, and Chaplin must struggle to load in his heavy props trunk and the trunks of the other acts. He shifts his burden to his assistant, making him carry the heavy trunk on his back, while Chaplin carries a hat box. After an argument over dressing rooms, the show begins before a rowdy audience which includes Keystone boss Mack Sennett in his "Rube" character. Chaplin messes up the acts, going onstage, dropping scenery backdrops at the wrong time and fighting with his assistant all the while. When the strong man's assistant is accidentally knocked out during the fighting, Chaplin takes her place, disrupting Garlico's act by ripping a piece of cloth behind his back as he lifts each weight, making him think that it's his costume that has ripped. When the infuriated Garlico attacks Chaplin, a melee breaks out which ends with Chaplin grabbing a fire hose and soaking actors, scenery and audience alike, anticipating similar gags in the subsequent films, A Night in the Show and A King in New York.



stagehand, vaudeville, bumbler, destruction, backstage, flirtation, showgirl, stage, audience