A Dog’s Life (1918)

I’ve been a bit remiss in not moving ahead with Charlie Chaplin’s career since he left Mutual in 1917 and started with First National. In this movie, he abandons many of the violent slapstick formulae of his years with Keystone, and focuses almost entirely on the sympathy and pathos of his “Little Tramp” character.

We meet the Tramp sleeping in an abandoned lot. When a hotdog vendor puts down his pot near a hole in the fence, Charlie reaches through to steal a hotdog. However, a cop observes this and even though Charlie returns his stolen goods, the cop rousts him out of his sleeping place. Charlie evades the cop by rolling under the fence several times, until another cop comes along and he runs away. Throughout all this, there are periodic insert shots of a cute dog with a patch over its left eye, sleeping in an alley. Charlie goes to an employment office where they are looking for men to work in a brewery. Even though he was there first, the other unemployed men manage to bully and outrun Charlie in getting the work tickets, and he spends the time running from window to window for nothing.

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