The Pawnshop (1916) starring Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Henry Bergman, John Rand, Albert Austin
Charlie Chaplin is an assistant in the pawnshop. A tardy, lazy, assistant who’s constantly starting a fight with his co-worker. And is in love with the pawn broker’s lovely daughter …
In short, The Pawnshop is a hilarious, fast-paced silent Charlie Chaplin comedy. It’s amazing just how much slapstick comedy is crammed into twenty minutes of film.
The plot is really just an excuse for a series of fights and jokes – all of which are laugh out loud funny. In my opinion, the funniest part — and the most famous — is Charlie methodically destroying a would-be customer’s clock, to “examine” it. It’s absolutely hilarious, especially when the innards of the clock start moving on their own!
- Charlie destroys his feather duster with an office fan
- Consequently turning a fight with John Rand into a dance
- Outside to clean, catching & dragging John with a ladder.
- After that, Charlie punching John while he’s trapped by the ladder … until a police officer walks by
- Then Charlie accidentally swats John & Henry Bergman with the ladder like a plank – classic clown comedy
- Swaying back & forth on the top of the ladder, cleaning the outside sign
- Recurring joke of Charlie checking his watch to make sure it’s still working
- After beating the stuffings out of John, Charlie lying on the floor pretending to be hurt — to get sympathy from Edna Purviance
- As a result, Charlie gets to eat one of Edna’s inedible, hard as stone, doughnuts.
- But, that leads to Charlie’s washing dishes through an old-time washing machine.
- Then a dough fight is interrupted.
- Charlie waiting on a melodramatic customer while eating … and getting fleeced by him.
- Next, the funniest part of the movie. During Charlie “examination” of a clock that’s been bought in to be pawned … and destroying it!
- While Charlie’s fighting with John & Henry Bergman, the villain Eric Campbell sneaks into the vault …
- However, caught in the act, Eric pulls a gun on the staff … only to be knocked out from behind by Charlie who was hiding in a trunk!
Cast of characters
- Charlie Chaplin: Pawnshop assistant. He’s late (pointing to the calendar to prove that he arrived on the right day), lazy, provoking fights, and destroying property in a flurry of comedy. He works for:
- Henry Bergman: Pawnbroker, who actually fires Charlie for all the damage midway through the picture. But after Charlie grovels & pleads, he re-hires him. He’s the father of:
- Edna Purviance: His daughter, who Charlie has a crush on. She’s pretty, kind … and has cooked doughnuts that are as hard as a rock!
- John Rand: Pawnshop assistant, and Charlie’s nemesis for the film. He’s just trying to get his work done …
- Albert Austin: Client with clock. Who simply observes are Charlie slowly destroys his clock in a crescendo of slapstick.
- Wesley Ruggles: Client with ring who plays a sob story to Charlie … only for Charlie to realize he’s been taken advantage of! Very funny.
- Eric Campbell: Supposedly a customer who’s come to look at the pawnshop’s diamonds, but he’s actually a thief.