SUNNYSIDE(director/writer: Charles Chaplin; cinematographer: Roland Totheroh; editor: Charles Chaplin; music: Charles Chaplin; cast: Charles Chaplin (Farm handyman), Edna Purviance (Village Belle), Tom Wilson (Boss), Tom Terriss (Young Man From the City), Henry Bergman (Villager/Edna’s Father), Tom Wood (Fat Boy); Runtime: 29; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Charles Chaplin; Image Entertainment; 1919-silent)
“Pokes fun at small-town rural America and its hypocritical pieties.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Charles Chaplin’s (“Easy Street”/”The Immigrant”/”The Vagabond”) third film for First National is a two reeler set in the country on a Sunday morning that pokes fun at small-town rural America and its hypocritical pieties. Charlie is the hard working handyman who between work and courting the farmer’s daughter has two dream sequences.
Charlie’s boss, Tom Wilson, owns a farm, a hotel, a barber shop and a general store, and Charlie works full-time at all those places. The boss is always pushing him to work harder and treats Charlie with contempt even though his hotel has a sign that says “Love thy Neighbor.” The boss wakes Charlie early to milk the cows and to prepare breakfast, and to save time Charlie has a chicken lay his egg in the frying pan.
When Charlie is tending his cows in the country while the locals go to church in the village, he loses track of the herd while reading from the Bible while walking them and the herd upsets the church service by roaming through the town. The locals chase Charlie back to the country, where he stumbles off a bridge and has a brief dream whereby he’s surrounded by smiling nymphs. Awakened by the locals, he returns to work only to take a break and court his love interest, the farmer’s daughter Edna Purviance. To get rid of her pesty kid brother, Charlie proposes they play blind man’s bluff and leaves the dumb hick blindfolded outside in traffic while he stays inside courting Edna and playing the piano until her angry father kicks him out. Returning to the hotel, there’s a fancy dressed city slicker propped up on the desk who was just in a car wreck and gets treated by the village doctor with horse medicine and when recovered the city slicker turns his amorous intentions on Edna. He uses the knob of his walking stick as a cigarette lighter to impress the lady and get Charlie jealous. When Charlie tries to impress Edna by doing the same thing with his walking stick, it doesn’t work. In the end, this turns out to only be a dream and when the city slicker departs he gives Charlie such a big tip that he can now afford to marry Edna.
The short was better on the social commentary than the comedy. If anything, those arty dream sequences were confusing and destroyed the integrity of the film by adding a false sense of suspense.
REVIEWED ON 8/3/2008 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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