Charlie Chaplin’s THE PROPERTY MAN (1914) – No props earned here


Chaplin plays the title role, a prop man for a mish-mash of a vaudeville show. Some of the show’s characters are intriguing, if thinly developed – the divas with their temper tantrums, the height-challenged strong man – but they’re all just fodder for Charlie to kick them around, anyway. The guy who gets it the worst is Charlie’s fellow prop man, a senior citizen whom Charlie bats around because…well, because he’s old, I guess.

There are a few nice gags sprinkled throughout, as when Charlie flirts with the strong man’s wife and inadvertently ends up on stage with a few of the acts, but the comedy is hit-and-miss. And it isn’t helped by frequent cutaways to the audience’s front row, led by Mack Sennett at his most yahoo-ey.

Charlie finishes the stage act, and the film, by aiming a live water hose at everyone. It was almost inevitable.