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Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Dough and Dynamite (1914)

I'm not surprised that Dough and Dynamite is one of the last Keystone films made by Charlie Chaplin. The quality of them improved notably throughout 1914 from the early shorts directed by people like Henry Lehrman or George Nichols to the later ones directed by Chaplin himself. The worst are the ones in the middle directed by Mack Sennett or by Chaplin along with Mabel Normand, who was often the real star in them, as evidenced by titles like Mabel's Busy Day or Mabel's Married Life.

This one is longer than most that came before it and while it didn't keep me laughing all the way through, it certainly kept a chuckle rolling. Then again it would be difficult to fail entirely with prominent signs advertising French tarts on view. Chaplin is a working man here and seemingly someone of at least a little importance at the bakery as he gets to order around someone who looks a lot like Ben Turpin, but apparently is Chester Conklin. It's hard to tell these people sometimes beneath all that outrageous fake facial hair!

The pair of them are waiters who end up as bakers because the real bakers all go on strike. Given that they get up to enough trouble as waiters with customers who include Charley Chase, it's not surprising how much more they get up to as bakers. Both Chaplin and Conklin get beaten up with bread products in about every way conceivable and probably a few more besides, and the strikers end up getting a stick of dynamite into the bakery to blow it up. All of these scenes are as great examples of slapstick timing as you'd expect, but they're not constructed as well as you'd remember.

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