The Idle Class Image

The Idle Class

By Alan Ng | November 11, 2021

Considered one of Charlie Chaplin’s funniest shorts, The Idle Class celebrates its 100th anniversary. Yes, it’s still funny. Running the gamut as writer, director, and producer, Chaplin decides to take on two roles of mistaken identity in this slapstick story of golf.

As the Tramp, Chaplin disembarks from a train from underneath the luggage compartment. The train is carrying the rich and affluent with golf clubs and gear in hand. Luckily, the lonely Tramp has clubs as well and follows the golfers to the nearby country club.

“…the wife throws a masquerade party, which pits the two Chaplins against one another…”

Also arriving at the platform is a neglected wife (Edna Purviance) waiting for her husband to pick her up. We then switch to a lonely husband, played by Chaplin, looking like a clean and tailored version of the Tramp. Unfortunately, the husband does not arrive on time because of his late-night drinking, upsetting the wife. Later that day, the wife throws a masquerade party, which pits the two Chaplins against one another to hilarious result. Mistaken identity is on tap at the masquerade ball.

Today, silly and slapstick comedies have not faired well in the cinema. Chaplin was one of the masters of the genre, and sadly, contemporaries refused to learn from the man’s approach to humor. There’s an art to his physical comedy and silliness. The art comes in that each gag feels spontaneous, but you know it was planned and meticulously executed to perfection. It’s this attention and detail to the simplest joke that is missing today.

I’ll admit, I’ve only seen a handful of Charlie Chaplin films, The Idle Class is considered one of his best, and I’d agree. This short film is also the perfect first film for anyone who wants an introduction to the Little Tramp. His talents are on full display.

The Idle Class (1921)

Directed and Written: Charlie Chaplin

Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

The Idle Class Image

"…considered one of Charlie Chaplin's funniest shorts..."

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