Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Twenty Minutes of Love (1914)

This was the first film in which Chaplin reputedly had a hand in the direction and writing. It's difficult to say (the direction has variously been credited to Joseph Maddern and even to Mack Sennett), though various historians have pointed out that it's quite likely that Chaplin did at least have a hand in the story construction, since he practically remade the film at Essanay a year later as In the Park.

Either way, Twenty Minutes of Love is a slight little film, one of the many "park" comedies cranked out by Keystone. There are the usual mix-ups and confusions, but Chaplin's performance is already showing signs of his mature characterization, such as when he observes a young couple necking on a bench in the park, and, so overcome with a mix of frustration and repulsion, absentmindedly embraces and kisses a tree!

Twenty Minutes of Love also marks the first time that Chaplin's character is really at the center of the chaos. While he certainly creates mischief wherever he goes, he's almost like the calm eye of a comic hurricane, with just the perfect mix of innocence and an impish, sometimes devilish quality. There had been strong traces of this in his earlier appearances as the Tramp - his turns as comic heavies didn't allow for this kind of development - but here he seems more close than ever to being fully formed (which would finally happen with his next film).


Chris Edwards said...

Just finished the first disc of this set myself. Was 'Caught in a Cabaret' his next film?

Anonymous said...

Yes, that's the next one, and for me, it's the one where everything finally comes together in terms of his character...but more on that in the next piece!