Charlie Chaplin in HIS NEW PROFESSION (1914) – Something to offend everyone

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(WARNING: Spoilers abound!)

His New Profession is about as politically incorrect as Keystone comedies get, but if you’re in the mood for that sort of guilty pleasure, it’s a riot.

It begins with Charlie in the park, sitting innocently (for once) and reading the Police Gazette. A nearby young man wants to make time with his girlfriend but must push his incapacitated uncle around in a wheelchair. The young man asks Charlie to push him around for a while and offers to pay him for it later.

The uncle has a cast on one leg, and when you recall what happened with Charlie and a man with gout (Caught in the Rain), you immediately brace yourself. Sure enough, the cast-up leg gets smacked a few times, but the real eye-popper is yet to come.

Charlie passes a bar. Suddenly realizing he’s an alcoholic, Charlie asks the uncle for a handout, but the uncle won’t budge. Charlie keeps walking the uncle, who falls asleep in his chair. Charlie ends up rolling next to another man asleep in a wheelchair; the man has a tin cup and is wearing a sign reading, “Help a Cripple.” Charlie surreptitiously moves the cup and the sign over to the uncle’s chair. A sympathetic nurse walks by and deposits a coin in the cup. Once she leaves, Charlie grabs the coin and is off to the bar.

From there, it’s one Did-I-just-see-that moment after another. And when everyone gathers on a pier for the climax, you’re just waiting for someone to end up in the drink. No disappointment there, either.

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