The Floorwalker

Film Review by Dean Duncan Aug 17, 2015

Chaplin’s Essanay comedies are quite variable, not necessarily in overall quality, but in their ambition, or cinematic technique. Some are pretty simply and successfully aggressive, cheerfully knockabout films without much thought for character or context (In the Park). In The Tramp and Work and The Bank you sense that Chaplin is trying for something more.

The Mutual films are another thing altogether. In a certain superficial sense they may be a bit primitive, but by every significant measure they are a pretty exalted aggregation. Having said that the inaugural release, The Floorwalker, is a comparatively modest production. There’s an embezzlement subplot that is pretty standard, and not really subjected to any very interesting satirical treatment. There’s some good-natured violence, very well executed, but not really adding up to anything very new. Having said that, Chaplin in holding pattern is still Chaplin. Watch the brilliant things he does with the escalator, for instance, or at that mirror. And then, or after that, look out!