Friday, August 19, 2011

Tango Tangles (1914)

Another one with a largely improvisational feel, here Chaplin appears out of makeup and usual costume, playing a drunk at a dance hall. There’s not much more to the set-up than Chaplin and Ford Sterling fighting over a girl on the dance floor, with much of Sterling’s trademark arm-flailing, frenetic gesticulations and nose-biting. The film ends when the two men collapse from exhaustion. Tango Tangles is primarily of interest for the chance to see a very young-looking Chaplin without his usual makeup engaging in the usual roughhouse stuff, apparently filmed at least partially on location at a real dance hall. Arbuckle actually almost steals the show with his understated performance style and impressive pratfalls. To paraphrase what Theodore Huff said about By the Sea, Tango Tangles is a slight effort enlivened by a certain impromptu charm.

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