Charlie Chaplin in THE CURE (1917) – A shot of strong comedy

Cure

Okay, let’s get The Cure’s main plot defect out of the way. Charlie is an alcoholic who enters a health spa to get better. But he has brought an entire trunk of liquor to the spa with him. One of the spa’s attendants (Albert Austin) gets wind of this and dumps the entire supply of liquor into…the very same well from which everyone obtains their curative drinks. So of course, the same snoots who looked down on Charlie-the-alkie are suddenly enjoying the well water much more than usual. That sounds like something Mack Sennett would have come up with on a very bad day.

That plot point aside, The Cure is very enjoyable. You’d never guess Charlie was unhealthy, the way Chaplin sprints all over the spa set as if on fairy dust. There isn’t a wasted detail in the whole film. The first few minutes offer us nothing but Charlie and two other men dealing with a revolving door, and it’s hilarious. And it only gets better, with Chaplin’s theme of transposition making many memorable appearances (e.g., a masseuse works his patient over so much, Charlie interprets it as a wrestling match and crowns the masseuse as champion).

The Cure, like The Floorwalker, makes the most of every part of its setting. (That’s all the more surprising when you see the movie’s skimpy origins, in the documentary Unknown Chaplin.) It’s a treat.

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