#23 Love Me Tonight

Watched: August 24 2016

Director: Rouben Mamoulian

Starring: Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald

Year: 1932

Runtime: 1h 44min

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We were extremely excited to watch this, the first proper musical on the list, and it did not disappoint! From the opening shot and the rhythms made by the city to the train chase in the end, this was a thrilling experience throughout. Love Me Tonight features infectuous, funny songs, great performances, brilliant humour, the liveliest bridge party in cinema history, and lots and lots of innuendo.

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The innuendo would have been ever worse if she was the one to fall on his flute

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The story has something of a classic fairytale and/or a Shakespeare play about it. A vicount convinces a tailor (Chevalier) to pose as a baron for a weekend so his uncle, the duke, will not learn that his nephew is in dept to the tailor. Meanwhile, the princess of the castle (MacDonald) is so sexually frustrated that she suffers fainting spells and the doctor even recommends marriage. Naturally, the “baron” falls for the princess and complications ensue. Hilarious, romantic, musical complications.

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“I do not care for this man. But what is this? The countess flirts with him?? I must have this man!”

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There are also three old ladies (our favourites!) who are seen stirring a cauldron-like thing at some point, a lovelorn count (the owner of the aforementioned flute and another favourite), an eccentric duke, a wild horse, a jumping stag, a very flirty young countess, a chase scene involving a train and a horse, and of course the charming tailor and the stubborn but unhappy princess.

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We are currently looking for three elderly ladies to adopt. Contact 1000filmsblog@gmail.com for details, terms and conditions.

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We absolutely loved this film. The song “Isn’t it Romantic” was wonderfully staged, and the humour, music and characters made this a must-watch. ‘Tis a silly film for silly people, and we’ll definitely watch it again (in about 5 years time when we’ve finished the list, that is).

What we learned: if you do not make “boing boing”-noises when you see a stag jumping, you are dead inside. Also, if your castle does not have exaggerated proportions, it’s not a proper castle.

Next time: Scarface (1932)

#22 The Island of Lost Souls

Watched: August 21 2016

Director: Erle C. Kenton

Starring: Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Bela Lugosi, Kathleen Burke

Year: 1932

Runtime: 1h 10min

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Based on H. G. Wells’ The Island of Dr Moreau (1896), The Island of Lost Souls opens with shipwrecked Edward Parker (Arlen) being rescued by a floating zoo. After an altercation with the captain he is unceremoniously tossed off the ship to a remote island owned and operated by mad scientist Dr. Moreau (Laughton) where Parker runs into several scary humanoid creatures. This being the 1930s though, everyone is very polite about the whole thing and he is invited to stay the night in Moreau’s house.

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“Oh, they’re harmless. There’s absolutely no reason whatsoever that I have this huge fence outside my house.”

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The creatures in the jungle are the experiments of the good doctor, who we learn was driven from London when one of his experiments escaped. They are mutated and surgically altered animals kept at bay through “religious” doctrine, enforced by “The Sayer of the Law” (Lugosi). Moreau then decides to introduce his only female creation, the Panther Woman Lota (Burke – credited only as “the Panther Woman”), to Parker and see if she’ll seduce him. Because that what fathers do with their daughters.

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“Sure, I may be engaged, but if she’s not really human, am I really cheating?”

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Like Frankenstein, Moreau has a pesky little God complex which will (of course) be his undoing, and like his German counterpart, he will learn that if you create life and mistreat your creation, you gonna get fucked. Meanwhile, the audience are treated to such simple philosophical questions as “what makes a soul?” and “what makes humanity?”

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Again we put it to you to guess who the real monster is

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This film is awesome – easily the best adaptation we have seen of Wells’ novel (which we haven’t read, but we’ve seen three film versions, so we like to pretend we have). It’s beautifully shot and has some great performances. The only thing missing is a song- and dance-number but, fortunately for us, The Mighty Boosh took care of that. Enjoy!

What we learned: Oh so much! Ships make people slaphappy; Bela Lugosi is awesome even in small roles; don’t play God and mess with nature unless you want to be killed horribly; watching Freaks and The Island of Lost Souls back to back before bedtime will give you weird dreams.

Next time: Love Me Tonight (1932)

#21 Freaks

Watched: August 21 2016

Director: Tod Browning

Starring: Olga Baclanova, Harry Earles, Daisy Earles

Year: 1932

Runtime: 1h

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A personal favourite of ours, Freaks is a cult classic everyone should watch. Cleo, a beautiful trapeze artist in a travelling circus, starts flirting with one of the sideshow “freaks,” little person Hans, for fun. When she discovers his wealth, she teams up with lover and resident strong man Hercules to hatch a sinister plot. Hans marries Cleo, breaking the lovely and gorgeous former fiancée Frieda’s heart in the process, only to be poisoned on his wedding day.

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Fortunately, nobody let a little thing like the poisoning of the groom ruin a perfectly good wedding party!

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Even if you haven’t seen the film, you must have come across the chant “Gooble gobble, gooble gobble! We accept her, we accept her! One of us! One of us!” which is how the “freaks” welcome Cleopatra into their midst. She, however, is not impressed and has no intention of being associated more than necessary with the ones she feels are beneath her. She ridicules her new husband and his friends and Hans realises he’s made a huge mistake just before gets sick from the poison.

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Pictured: pure hatred and dawning realisation. And drunk dude.

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The sideshow performers look after their own though, and when they learn what Cleo is doing, they start plotting a little revenge. And what a vengeance! On the road during a storm, the “freaks” go after Cleo and Hercules and make sure they really become “one of us,” turning them into the freaks they so desperately despise.

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“Who’s the freak now, bitch!”

We cannot express how much we love this film. Throughout the main narrative there are loads of subplots revolving around the daily lives of the circus performers which normalise and humanise them, making the actions of Cleo and Hercules even more despicable and leaving no doubt as to who the actual freaks are.

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Hint: it’s not these guys.

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What we learned: “normals” are the real freaks. But we already knew that. Also, Frieda is the most adorable woman you’ll ever see, Daisy is a fool for marrying Roscoe (he treats her like crap!), Venus and Phroso are wonderful people, and American Horror Story: Freak Show owes pretty much everything to this film.

Next time: The Island of Lost Souls (1932)

#20 The Public Enemy

Watched: August 21 2016

Director: William A. Wellman

Starring: James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods, Donald Cook

Year: 1931

Runtime: 1h 23min

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This gangster classic follows the lives of two friends growing up in Chicago and rising through the ranks of the local crime syndicate. Tom Powers (Cagney) and Matt Doyle (Woods) start off with petty theft as kids and gradually move up and onward to bigger things, such as fur stealing, cop killing and fornication.

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“Dames and Dolls are just a perk – we’re really in it for the fashion”

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Like Little Caesar, Tommy moves up in the criminal world, but he is infinitely more likable. Sure, he’s a bastard, but he is a cheeky bastard and one of the sassiest sassies that ever sassed.

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Just look at his little face!

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Tom’s increasingly violent behaviour, together with the freak death of one of his strongest allies and his revenge on an old employer, lead to Tom and Matt moving to the top of a rival gang’s kill list and they go into hiding. After his boss’ girlfriend rapes him (there’s no other way to describe getting someone drunk and having sex with them despite their protests), Tom flees from his refuge unarmed and with a target on his back. The ending is heartbreaking and shocking.

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It then turns into an After School Special

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The Public Enemy has it all. Beer drinking kids, old-timey flirting (the best kind!), love, friendship, loyalty, gun fights, dysfunctional families, gorgeous clothes, Jimmy Cagney, betrayal, murder and mayhem, as well as the aforementioned female-on-male rape. We loved it and are now developing a tiny (or not so tiny) crush on James Cagney.

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The face of a man who has seen some shit. And been raped.

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What we learned: for siblings, we slap each other around way too little. Also, if you kill someone’s best friend, expect repercussions.

Next time: Freaks (1932)

#19 Monkey Business

Watched: August 19 2016

Director: Norman McLeod

Starring: The Marx Brothers

Year: 1931

Runtime: 1h 17min

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Another silly, silly Marx Brothers film – this time at sea. Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo play four stowaways who run around generally being disruptive and getting themselves into trouble on an America-bound ship. Nothing new there.

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Fact: this is how they travelled while they were still doing their stage shows.

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As always, the brothers are very entertaining and we could watch them just being the Marx Brothers all day. After about half an hour though, they decide to add in a plot where all the stowaways are roped into being bodyguards/”tough guys” for a couple of rival gangsters (two brothers on each side). Also, one of them (Zeppo, who actually gets to play a proper part this time) falls in love with one of the gangsters’ daughter. In between the great gags, excellent lines and equally brilliant music numbers, there is a kidnapping plot and a fight scene in a barn.

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And Groucho has a very strange and unlikely romance with a gangster’s wife. Which has remarkably few consequences.

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Some comparison to Animal Crackers, which we loved, must be made. We loved this one too, especially the stowaway-thing since we’ve both had a soft spot for stowaways since The Greatest Norwegian Movie of All Time: Haakon Haakonsen a.k.a. Shipwrecked (1990). Monkey Business feels slightly less theatrical than its predecessor, probably because there are more variations to the sets and locations. It features some amazing lines, such as “a man who’s licked his weight in wild caterpillars” and Zeppo gets to participate more – he even gets the girl!

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Which is fairly realistic, given the inclinations of most women as well as the competition.

Chico plays the piano again (yay!), Harpo attempts to rape random women (very much not yay!), Groucho is a cheeky fucker and Zeppo looks like their minder. In other words, it’s definitely worth watching. Although we missed the big musical number from Animal Crackers. And there’s no actual monkey.

What we learned: we need to step up our wordplay game.

Next time: The Public Enemy (1931)

#18 M

Watched: August 17 2016

Director: Fritz Lang

Starring: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke

Year: 1931

Runtime: 1h 50min

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We absolutely loved this film! It’s definitely going on our favourites list, and we cannot believe it took us this long to actually watch this classic when we’ve heard about it forever.

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This is pretty much a perfect summary of the plot

A German town is plagued by a serial killer who preys on young children. The local police are getting nowhere and the organized crime bosses decide to get in on the manhunt as the killer is bad for business. They put together the best neighbourhood watch squad ever – beggars. The police and the criminals get on the killer’s trail around the same time, and we follow the three parties (including the killer himself) towards the climax of the film.

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“What is the meaning of this? Have they labelled me a Mark? A Murderer? A Mango?”

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In the end, we are treated to the eternal debate of what to do with a compulsive killer who claims he cannot help himself. Peter Lorre gives an outstanding performance as Hans Beckert – despite his despicable actions, he is somewhat believable as he begs for his life and pretty much pleads insanity (although his claims aren’t quite compatible with the fact that he sent the police and press taunting letters).

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When even the criminals want you dead, you know you done fucked up!

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It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it was we loved so much about this, but here are a few things that stood out:

  • Extremely cool long shots
  • Serial killer hunt (it’s our kryptonite)
  • Great visuals
  • Awesome shot compositions
  • The amazing cross-cutting between the police and the local gangsters
  • The performances
  • The use of shadows
  • The killer whistling “In the Hall of the Mountain King”
  • Basically everything about it.

We strongly urge anyone who hasn’t seen this film to make it a priority. It’s worth it.

Things we learned: everyone has a responsibility to look after the children. Also, we really like dark stuff. Like, really.

Next time: Monkey Business (1931) Apparently 1931 was a good year for movies!

#17 Little Caesar

Watched: August 15 2016

Director: Mervyn LeRoy

Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Glenda Farrell

Year: 1931

Runtime: 1h 18min

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The first gangster film on the list, and what a film! The lingo! The voices! The faces! The incredible nicknames! Killer Peppi, Scabby, Diamond Pete, Kid Bean, and of course Little Caesar himself: together they rule the underworld.

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And they look darned dapper when they do

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The plot revolves around the titular character (Robinson) – an ambitious young bastard who through hubris and ruthlessness works his way up the ranks of a gang and eventually takes over their operation.

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“What are you talking about, hubris?”

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Through his quest for power, he mows down semi-innocent people and screws over quite a few of his friends (despite his motto becoming “Loyalty & Friendship”). Our hearts go out to poor Tony the Getaway Driver. (Who is referred to as a big baby. Baby Driver..?)

Meanwhile, his old friend Joe (Fairbanks) tries to move away from gangster life and instead works as a dancer with his partner and girlfriend Olga (Farrell).

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A wise career move for the costumes alone

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Little Caesar (aka Rico) will have none of it though, and continuously pressures Joe to return to gangster life. He even ropes him into assisting a robbery at his place of work. Joe, despite wanting very little to do with the newfound crime lord still has some feelings for his old friend, and he tries to warn him when he overhears another criminal plotting his assassination.

In the end, Rico’s hubris and self worship turn out to be his fatal flaws (who could have seen that coming?) and the whole operation goes down. But at least Joe and Olga become stars, which is great.

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Never has the saying “crime doesn’t pay” been illustrated more clearly

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This is a quick paced gangster film with drive by shootings, very good costumes, amazing lingo, lots of drama and great performances. And now we can’t wait to rewatch Bugsy Malone (1976) once we get to the seventies.

Things we learned: we need new nicknames.

Next time: M (1931)

#16 Frankenstein

Watched: August 14 2016

Director: James Whale

Starring: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff

Year: 1931

Runtime: 1h 10min

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Another classic horror film (and old favourite of ours), Frankenstein probably needs no further introduction. But we’ll give you one anyway. Somewhere in Germany (we assume), the “astonishingly sane” Henry (not Victor for some reason) Frankenstein and his hunchback assistant Fritz (not Igor) are building a man from human cadavers. Frankenstein believes he has the knowledge and technology to reanimate the dead, and he succeeds in his efforts only to regret his decision almost immediately. They then go on to lock up and torture the poor creature (wonderfully portrayed by Boris Karloff) before leaving it to fend for itself while its creator gets married. Excellent parenting there.

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A face only a father could love. But didn’t.

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The film is basically about a bunch of horrible people doing horrible things to a (more or less) defenceless innocent newborn and who are subsequently surprised when said newborn tries to defend himself and turns on them. Seriously, they all had it coming.

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Except Maria. She was adorable and sweet.

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Fritz, however, was a cunt.

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Angry mobs and fire abound, as do pretty dresses. The ending is heartbreaking, although we suspect it would have been hard for the Creature to attempt a normal life.

The film takes its concept and some of the story from Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, but it differs in many respects. However, this film is possibly even more iconic than the book, so much so that many of the things people believe about Frankenstein come from Whale’s film rather than Shelley’s original (such as the character of Igor, the use of electricity to awaken the monster and the bolts on his neck).

We recommend both reading the book and watching the film, as you cannot have enough Frankenstein in your life. Then watch other film versions (especially Young Frankenstein [1974]). Then reread the novel.

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Then get this hairdo.

In conclusion: you need to watch this film. But if you do not feel for the Creature you are a coldhearted bastard and we will have nothing more to do with you.

Things we learned: there’s not enough Bavarian folk dancing in our lives.

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Bonus pic: our little monster watching Frankenstein with us. He loved it but refused to watch the ending.

Next time: Little Caesar (1931)

#15 Dracula

Watched: August 13 2016

Director: Tod Browning

Starring: Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Helen Chandler

Year: 1931

Runtime: 1h 25min

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We’re back in our element with this classic horror film based on the same source material as Nosferatu, and Bela Lugosi is bringing sexy back to the vampire! I mean, not to the same extent as Gary Oldman, because that’s impossible, but still. This Count Dracula is classy and stylish, and the sexual aspect of feeding on the young women is much more apparent in this version (partly because this one includes Dracula’s wives, roaming the castle in their nighties). The castle itself is a derelict yet awesome building where the pangolins run free. If it hadn’t been for the spiders we’d move in on the spot!

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It’s only a model

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The story is much the same as in Nosferatu, but with a few changes. Jonathan Harker never visits Transylvania; instead, the first scene is with Renfield who undertakes the journey and is warned by superstitious locals about the Count and his wives. He is quickly enslaved and accompanies his new master on the voyage to England where he is promptly placed in a lunatic asylum run by Mina’s father.

Professor Van Helsing plays a more important role in this than in Murnau’s 1922 version. In fact, the scenes with Dracula and Van Helsing are easily the best ones in the film as their chemistry is brilliant. Mina is still the object of the Count’s desire though, and it’s his lust for her which is finally his undoing.

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“Swiggity swooty I’m coming for that booty”

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This is an iconic film that everyone should watch at least once in their lives. There are some great performances and the way Dracula’s eyes are lit throughout is very cool. For die hard fans (not fans of Die Hard (1988), but die hard fans of Dracula) we can also recommend travelling to Sighișoara in Romania which is the birthplace of Vlad Tepes, the real life inspiration for the character. And have we recommended Coppola’s 1992 version of Dracula..? ‘Cause Gary Oldman, people!

Things we learned: never trust nobility. Especially if they have no reflection.

Next time: Frankenstein (1931)

#14 City Lights

Watched: August 12 2016

Director: Charles Chaplin

Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill

Year: 1931

Runtime: 1h

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And we’re back to silent films. This time a tramp, a blind flower girl and a suicidal millionaire point out the vast differences between the rich and the poor. There’s also some very aggressive twirling on a dance floor and a well choreographed boxing match.

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“I just want some human contact…”

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City Lights is not as devastating as The Gold Rush (as in we didn’t have to take breaks to cry our eyes out), but it has some of the same melancholy and a certain sense of despondency.

The Tramp meets a beautiful, blind flower girl and (at first inadvertently, then knowingly) tricks her into thinking he is rich. He also befriends a millionaire by stopping him drowning himself and thus gets the means to woo her (note to self: be on the lookout for suicidal millionaires).

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“Yes, miss, I’m totes rich!”

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Unfortunately, each time the millionaire sobers up he forgets all about the Tramp, so his income is sporadic at best. Still, all our favourite scenes were with the two of them including the aforementioned aggressive dancing.

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“Everyone’s about to get served!”

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We kind of preferred the Tramp when he was a prospector, probably because this time he tricks the blind girl into thinking he’s something he’s not. He is still funny and sweet though, and he means well. After reading an article about sight-restoring surgery, he decides to get a job and help out the flower girl. Hence the boxing match (as well as an actual job as a street sweeper, but that is less well choreographed..).

There’s slapstick, lots of physical comedy and everything else you’d expect from Chaplin, including a soundtrack composed by him which works really well with the visual. The ending is slightly ambivalent so feel free to interpret that as you wish. An enjoyable watch, but not as wonderful as some of the other films we’ve seen for this project. However, given the awesomeness of the list, it’s still miles better than most films in the world.

Things we learned: drunk friends aren’t real friends. Unless you get them drunk again.

Next time: Dracula (1931) (Oboy, oboy, oboy!)