‘The Rink’ (1916) & ‘The Cure’ (1917) – Short Film Reviews

Onto the next film in the list of every movie featured on Disney’s Great Movie Ride, and we’re still in silent-era Chaplin films.

I have to admit, I feel there isn’t much to say about Chaplin shorts that hasn’t already been said, so I’m kind of just going to give a quick overview of the films and why I think they are some of the most memorable films on this list. (I feel I can do this with the hindsight that as of this writing, I’m actually in the 30s already going through the list chronologically, and really the only silent films I would rush to watch again are all of the Chaplin stories.)

The Rink (1916), as its title suggests, is the film in which one of the most memorable scenes in the first version of The Great Movie Ride finale montage originates from showing Chaplin’s skills on roller skates. The plot follows Chaplin’s character as he works as a waiter where he essentially has a kerfuffle with a customer named Mr. Stout who comes back up later at the rink. Part of the issue with Mr. Stout is that he was coming onto a girl who wasn’t interested (Edna Purviance) and Chaplin saves her from the ordeal so she invites him to the rink later on. Hilarity ensues at the rink as the antics between all of the characters allow Chaplin to show off his skating skills while maintaining everything audiences likely already know and love about him as a performer.

In The Cure (1917), Chaplin plays a drunk who is staying at a hydropathic hotel where a spa well is thought to cure certain physical ailments. In this short, the girl who becomes Chaplin’s romantic interest basically gets him to sober up which creates a fun juxtoposition as the hotel staff and many of the guests end up getting drunk/hungover themselves largely on the booze he brought in his suitcase.

The thing with both of these films that I think sticks with me (again aside from the obvious that Chaplin is familiar and as talented as you’d expect even if you have not watched much of him before) is that they were entertaining to watch without requiring much dialogue. It certainly also helps that these were shorts, but compared to some of the other silent-era films that just dragged on for so long, these held my attention from beginning to end.

I don’t think this is some kind of discovery as you likely have some idea of what you’re getting into with Chaplin shorts, but the focus on being visually entertaining without taking up time with dialogue when we can’t hear what’s being said and are only shown a brief sentence or two, combined with Chaplin’s performance just puts these (and the earlier Chaplin short and later full length film) ahead of the other silent movies in my book.

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