Article 4304 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Charles Chaplin
Featuring Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Olive Ann Alcorn
What it is: Comedy
An incompetent and put-upon farmhand in a small town finds his small-town romance put into jeopardy when a city man turns up and threatens to steal her heart.
The fantastic content of this short is that at one point Chaplin’s character falls into a ditch and knocks himself unconscious. He dreams he is among a group of dancing wood nymphs. What this sequence has to do with the rest of the movie, I’m not sure, but then, the short really does have only the barest whisper of a plot; the city man doesn’t even show up until two-thirds of the way through the movie.
You know, sometimes I think that Chaplin’s strength wasn’t his comic inventiveness; in this short at least, the slapstick comedy that makes up most of the movie is pretty hit and miss. It’s when he probes the emotional depths of his character that he is strongest; the sequences surrounding his relationship with the woman he loves are the most interesting parts of the movie. There’s apparently some controversy about the ending; there’s obviously a dream sequence near the end of the movie, but whether it’s the final scene or the scenes right before it is ambiguous. I myself opted with the scenes before it as the dream sequence, though that may be simply because it’s the more conventional structure. All in all, this is a fairly average Chaplin short.