A reformed tramp becomes a police constable who must fight a huge thug who dominates an inner city street.A reformed tramp becomes a police constable who must fight a huge thug who dominates an inner city street.A reformed tramp becomes a police constable who must fight a huge thug who dominates an inner city street.
Easy Street was one of the twelve films Chaplin made for Mutual. Mutual gave Chaplin unprecedented freedom and responded by giving them, overall, twelve of the best comedy shorts ever made. Easy Street is easily the best of them. It is a very funny short. This is the film I show when I want to introduce someone to Chaplin or silent films in general. The gags are inventive, and they are extremely well-played by his regular company of Mutual performers. Chaplin himself is at his best in this film, but where would he be without Eric Campbell, the best heavy he ever played against. (Sadly, Campbell would die in a car accident after the completion of the Mutual comedies. His loss would be felt in the First National comedies, which rarely reached the heights of the best Mutual work.)
But there is more to Easy Street than laughs. It is unusually mature for a silent comedy of its period. Chaplin usually presented his tramp character as a happy-go-lucky figure - a vagabond by choice, not circumstance. This film starts with the tramp as a down-and-out character, much in need of the new beginning he gets at the mission. In perhaps his first attempt at social commentary, Chaplin provides an unblinking view of ills of the society of the time. The most graphic example is the drug addict shooting up with a needle. People often have a misconception of silent comedies being simply quaint. That isn't quaint.
This is a must see.
- Nov 30, 2003