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A Dog’s Life

A Dog’s Life (1918) starring Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Syd Chaplin, Albert Austin, Bud Jamison

Charlie Chaplin‘s  A Dog’s Life is one of his funniest short films, with a lot of heart as well. It begins with Charlie the Little Tramp living a vagabond life in an abandoned lot, playing “hide and seek” with a police officer.   This is one of the funniest moments in the film, which has to be seen to be appreciated. He goes to the unemployment office to look for a job.  Another hilarious slapstick bit as little Charlie gets bounced from one row of applicants to another by the larger applicants, who proceed to take all of the job opportunities. Disappointed, Charlie returns to his “home” and rescues his dog, Scraps, from other mongrels.

Charlie and Scraps proceed to steal sausages from a lunch wagon (manned by Syd Chaplin, Charlie’s brother, and their first time together on film). It’s a hilarious routine, with one of them stealing food while the other distracts Syd’s attention. Charlie and Scraps enter a dance hall, where Edna Purviance is a singer, and an unwilling companion to the paying clientele. Charlie is thrown out when he can’t pay for a dance.

Back at their “home,” Scraps digs up a money-filled wallet.  Which has been buried there by thieves (Albert Austin and Bud Jamison). The pair returns to the dance hall, where they find that Edna has been fired. The conflict comes to a head as the thieves and Charlie steal the wallet back and forth from each other.  But all works out well in the end.  Charlie and Edna are happily married, and we see their nursery …  Where Scraps has had a litter of puppies!

A Dog’s Life is a very funny, very enjoyable silent short film that I recommend highly. It’s available on DVD as part of The Chaplin Revue.


Computer nerd by day, professional clown on evenings and weekends (Raynbow), who combines the two by maintaining a bunch of websites dedicated to the history and performances of clowning, such as Free Clown Skits, and comedy such as Best Clean Funny Jokes.

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