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,Rounders, The

The Rounders (1914)

In Charlie Chaplin's first comedy shorts for Keystone studios, he hadn't yet fully conceptualized his "Charlie the Tramp" character but you can see glimpses of his comedic genius beginning to emerge in some of the thirty-five shorts he made for Mack Sennett's company. Sennett had hired Chaplin in 1913 after being impressed with his performance as a drunken reveler in "A Night in a London Music Hall," a traveling stage show that toured America in 1912.

At first Chaplin appeared in minor roles in the Keystone shorts, providing support for such established comedy stars as Fatty Arbuckle, Mabel Normand and Chester Conklin. By the time he made his thirteenth short, Caught in the Rain (1914), Chaplin had greater creative control and was now the star, writer and director.

In The Rounders (1914) Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle co-star as two drunken revelers with nagging wives. It opens with Charlie stumbling home to his apartment in a state of intoxication. His wife immediately begins to berate him as Fatty, also returning home drunk, creates a ruckus in the adjacent apartment. Charlie's wife soon becomes embroiled in an argument with Fatty's wife over the noisy disturbance and their two husbands slip out unnoticed for more mischief. They resume their drinking at a nearby nightclub but are soon hunted down by their angry wives. In the ensuing chaos, they manage to flee as a crowd follows in hot pursuit but make their getaway in a rowboat on a lake. Exhausted, they both fall asleep as their boat slowly sinks underwater.

Arbuckle and Chaplin make an amusing comedy team, especially in terms of their contrasting physical sizes, and The Rounders is an especially irreverent poke at the institution of marriage.

Arbuckle would later recall working with Chaplin at Keystone: "I have always regretted not having been his partner in a longer film than these one-reelers we made so rapidly. He is a complete comic genius, undoubtedly the only one of our time and he will be the only one who will be still talked about a century from now."

Here is an abbreviated review of The Rounders that appeared in the Moving Picture World: "It is a rough picture for rough people, that people, whether rough or gentle, will probably have to laugh over while it is on the screen."

Producer: Mack Sennett
Director: Charles Chaplin
Screenplay: Charles Chaplin
Cinematography: Frank D. Williams
Film Editing: Charles Chaplin (uncredited)
Cast: Charles Chaplin (Reveller), Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle (Charlie's neighbor), Phyllis Allen (Charlie's wife), Minta Durfee (Fatty's wife), Al St. John (Bellhop/waiter), Jess Dandy (Diner), Wallace MacDonald (Diner), Charley Chase (Diner).
BW-11m.

by Jeff Stafford

SOURCES:
The Films of Charlie Chaplin by Gerald D. McDonald, Michael Conway, and Mark Ricci (Bonanza Books)
Tramp: The Life of Charlie Chaplin by Joyce Milton (HarperCollins)
VIEW TCMDb ENTRY

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