Friday, August 22, 2014

A Dog's Life

Written, directed, edited, scored, and starring Charles Chaplin, A Dog’s Life is the story of a man who finds a stray dog as he they would help a young woman and get a better life The film is another of Chaplin’s silent comedies as he plays the role of the Tramp who tries to get going with a dog named Scraps as his companion. Also starring Edna Purviance. A Dog’s Life is a whimsical yet heartfelt film from Charles Chaplin.

The film is a simple tale where the Tramp tries to survive the streets where he meets a dog named Scraps as they work together and eventually help a bar singer (Edna Purviance) who is constantly mistreated at work. Charles Chaplin’s screenplay not only stretches out the Tramp’s need to survive where he would do it in a comical fashion but also find a companion in this dog who was also mistreated where the two find each other and help each other. Even as they would evade the cops and other forces as well as annoy a lunch wagon owner (Sydney Chaplin) and other individuals.

Chaplin’s direction is very mesmerizing in the way he manages to create compositions that seem simple but has a lot more to say. Especially as Chaplin maintains a sense of energy into much of the physical humor and in some of the drama that unfolds. Also serving as editor where he maintains a straightforward presentation, Chaplin also maintains that sense of grit in the many situations that the Tramp and Scraps would endure as well as these little moments that play into Scraps wanting food or being hidden inside the Tramp. Things do get a little dramatic once the Tramp tries to help the singer as Chaplin’s score, from its 1957 reissued edition, plays into bits of the sentimentality with its lush orchestral score as well as the humorous moments with more upbeat themes. Overall, Chaplin creates a very lively and heartwarming film about a man and his dog.

Cinematographer Roland Totheroh does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography to capture the sense of grit for the film‘s inner city setting as well as more somber yet upbeat lighter schemes for the more livelier moments. Production designer Charles D. Hall does superb work with the look of the cities as well as the dancehall where the Tramp meets the singer.

The film’s cast includes some notable small roles from Sydney Chaplin as a lunch wagon owner, Albert Austin in a dual role as an employment clerk and a thief, Henry Bergman in a dual role as an unemployed man and a fat lady, Bud Jamison as a thief, and Tom Wilson as a policeman. Edna Purviance is wonderful as the bar singer who feels mistreated as she meets the Tramp and falls for him. In the role of Scraps is a thoroughbred mongrel named Mut as he brings a lot of life to that character making one of the finest animals captured on film. Finally, there’s Charles Chaplin as the Tramp where it’s Chaplin bringing some charm and great physical comedy to his performance as it’s one of his essential performances as the Tramp.

A Dog’s Life is an excellent film from Charles Chaplin as it’s one of his essential comedies during the silent era as it’s one that audiences needed to see. Especially in how he can take a simple story and do so much more to showcase his talents as a storyteller. In the end, A Dog’s Life is a fantastic film from Charles Chaplin.

Charles Chaplin Films: (Twenty Minutes of Love) - (Caught in the Rain) - (A Busy Day) - (Her Friend the Bandit) - (Mabel’s Married Life) - (Laughing Gas) - (The Face On the Bar Room Floor) - (Recreation) - (The Masquerader) - (His New Profession) - The Rounders - (The Property Man) - (The New Janitor) - (Those Love Pangs) - (Dough & Dynamite) - (Gentlemen of Nerve) - (His Musical Career) - (His Trysting Place) - (Getting Acquainted) - (His Prehistoric Past) - (His New Job) - (A Night Out) - (The Champion) - (In the Park) - (A Jitney Elopement) - (The Tramp) - (By the Sea (1915 film)) - (His Regeneration) - (Work (1915 film) - (A Woman) - (The Bank) - (Shanghaied) - (A Night in the Snow) - (Burlesque on Carmen) - (Police (1916 film)) - (Triple Trouble) - (The Floorwalker) - (The Fireman) - (The Vagabond) - (One A.M. (1916 film)) - (The Count) - (The Pawnshop) - (Behind the Screen) - (The Rink) - (Easy Street) - (The Cure (1917 film)) - (The Immigrant (1917 film)) - (The Adventurer) - (The Bond) - Shoulder Arms - Sunnyside - A Day’s Pleasure - (The Professor) - The Kid - The Idle Class - Pay Day - The Pilgrim - A Woman of Paris - The Gold Rush - The Circus - City Lights - Modern Times - The Great Dictator - Monsieur Verdoux - Limelight - A King in New York - (A Countess from Hong Kong)

© thevoid99 2014


Chris said...

Love this one, my favorite Chaplin short. So cute the dog acts as a pillow. Heartwarming indeed. The cake eating scene is hilarious.

thevoid99 said...

There's so many things about this short that is so funny but also so charming. I have some Chaplin shorts to watch but right now, I'm watching my Blind Spot assignment and.... this one is a fucking challenge.