Charlie Chaplin in DOUGH AND DYNAMITE (1914) – Not exactly an explosion of comedy

Dough(WARNING: Major spoilers abound!)

The main plot of Dough and Dynamite has waiters Chester Conklin and Charlie having to become bakers when the bakers at the restaurant where they work go on strike for better working conditions. Annoyed that the “scabs” have taken their jobs, one of the bakers hides a stick of dynamite in a loaf of bread and connives to get it put back into the restaurant’s oven, causing predictable havoc for the movie’s climax.

But that plot is mostly an excuse for Charlie to shove everyone around, act belligerent and incompetent simultaneously, and sling a lot of dough at people primarily because it’s so available. (That old reliable, the arse-kick, makes several appearances here as well.) And that’s not much of an excuse for extending this two-reeler to nearly an entire half-hour’s length. For the heavy-handed slapstick, my guess is that the blame goes to credited “co-writer” Mack Sennett.

Nothing is done with the explosion comedically, other than a final, gooey close-up of Charlie emerging from the doughy mess. Ironically, this was among many Chaplin shorts to be shown at the New York Historical Society in September of 2001. Needless to say, the real-life terrorist attack dampened the humor of the slapstick model, and the movie was pulled prior to screening.

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