The Cure

Film Review by Dean Duncan Aug 17, 2015

This may not be the most satisfying whole, but it sure has some great parts. Chaplin is really good at the drunk act, in which he gives us another glimpse at his exquisite body control. The sequence with the revolving door sequence is really elaborate and really extended. And really fast. The variations are constant, surprising, satisfying, and always connected to the original theme or purpose. The story here may be somewhat tossed off, but this particular section shows how precise an artist Chaplin really is.

There’s a lot of therapeutically punitive wrestling going on around here. This is where we encounter Albert Austin and Henry Bergman, this time around. They’ve become old friends, really the loveliest of all supporting actors. Chaplin assembles these sequences admirably, with some tremendous cutaways from Bergman pounding away at the first guy, back to the impassive Charlie, doing absolutely nothing.

It’s interesting how Chaplin’s character is drunk as it’s convenient. For instance he sure sobers up when it’s time to impress Edna. There are little delicacies that you can glimpse between the lines there. Eric Campbell takes a lot of punishment this time, which is funny, and wonderfully varied too. His facial contortions—eyebrows emerging terrifyingly from behind Edna’s chair—are really good too.

As often, and unsurprisingly, Charlie does a lot of superb dancing for us. Here’s an interesting rule change, comically speaking. As the film’s title suggests, patients come here for a Cure. When the natural spring that provides it gets contaminated and C. gets drunk again, it’s Edna who takes over the direct address and gets to look at us viewers. (Something similar happens in the “nose powder” sequence in Modern Times, q.v.) Other than that, though the basic idea of the spring is okay, the way it’s all resolved is a little bit tired, maybe. Except for one bit. Eric Campbell, who is enjoying a little break from his inveterate bad guy roles, steals the show here. Either that or he gets the laurels, with a breath-taking, death-defying dive into that tiny spring hole. Goes to show: keep paying attention. You never know what great thing might come along.