The Rounders (1914) starring Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle
A silent film during Charlie Chaplin’s time with the Keystone studio, where Charlie Chaplin and Fatty Arbuckle are inebriated husbands, who after being beaten up by their wives, sneak out for … more drinks!
Charlie Chaplin first came to prominence by playing the part of “the inebriate” – a drunken character, combined with Chaplin’s skill at slapstick – and that’s at the heart of The Rounders. Here, Charlie Chaplin does not play his familiar character of the Little Tramp. The film begins with a drunken Charlie, dressed in a fine suit, wobbling his way back to his wife.
Charlie Chaplin’s wife begins abusing him in a comedic, slapstick fashion … while across the hall, the same basic scene is being unfolded with comedian Fatty Arbuckle (also playing an inebriate) being abused by his wife. Both couples are physical opposites – the small Chaplin against his large wife, the rotund Fatty Arbuckle being beaten by his small wife. Soon, Charlie’s overbearing wife sends him across the hall to “rescue” Fatty’s wife. Which proceeds to Fatty’s wife slapping Charlie about as well, leading to a fight between the two ladies. While Fatty and Charlie sneak out to get another drink, after stealing some cash from their respective wives’ purses.
Soon, the besotted duo are making a nuisance of themselves at “Smith’s Café”, while their wives are out looking for them. They are about to be thrown out, when their wives arrive. And the boys run away to a nearby park, with their wives in hot pursuit. They “hijack” a small rowboat and go out to the middle of the lake. They blissfully sink into the water while the wives and the angry crowd gather at the shore.
The Rounders is a very early Charlie Chaplin short film, and “short” is the word. It’s only 9 minutes and 35 seconds long. It’s still enjoyable, and I recommend it. The Rounders (1914) is available on DVD, and courtesy of The Internet Archive it’s embedded below as well.
You might recognize some other actors in The Rounders as well: Billy Gilbert, Edgar Kennedy, Al St. John, and Charlie Chase.