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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! The Chaplin Revue presents him as he was meant to be seen
There was no single correct projection speed for motion pictures until standardization in 1927, when 24 FPS was necessarily decided upon as a prelude to the coming of talkies. Most prior photoplays were shot at varying speeds. In his earliest films, D.W. Griffith favored 12 FPS. This means, at playback on a motorized projector set at the standard 24 FPS, BIRTH OF A NATION...
Published on February 24, 2009 by Annie Van Auken

versus
33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Chaplin Slowdown
Compiled, scored and narrated by Charlie Chaplin in 1958, "The Chaplin Revue" was a terrific idea to showcase three of the comedian's best films for First National: "A Dog's Life" (1918), "Shoulder Arms" (1918) and "The Pilgrim" (1923). Unfortunately, Chaplin tampered with these particular films by presenting them at a slower projection speed, which ruins the original...
Published on January 27, 2001 by Scott T. Rivers


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! The Chaplin Revue presents him as he was meant to be seen, February 24, 2009
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This review is from: Chaplin Revue [VHS] (VHS Tape)
There was no single correct projection speed for motion pictures until standardization in 1927, when 24 FPS was necessarily decided upon as a prelude to the coming of talkies. Most prior photoplays were shot at varying speeds. In his earliest films, D.W. Griffith favored 12 FPS. This means, at playback on a motorized projector set at the standard 24 FPS, BIRTH OF A NATION and other movies seem bizarrely fast!

Comedies were often filmed at 16 FPS and undercranked for action scenes. All these movies were designed to be shown on a hand-cranked projector. Thus, when 24 FPS came in, the natural look of earlier silent films DISAPPEARED. With the passage of decades, viewers have come to accept these ridiculously quick-moving images as "normal" because they have no point of previous reference.

When Sir Charles selected in 1959 the three shorts that comprise THE CHAPLIN REVUE and added his own musical compositions, he made certain that these movies would run at their ORIGINAL projection speeds. So we are able to see here how silent movies actually appeared to cinemagoers in 1918 and 1923. The naturalness of unbusy passages is delightful and certainly NOT a distraction. For the first time, modern audiences can appreciate the subtleties of Chaplin's facial expressions and movements. This is a wonderful compilation!

"The Chaplin Revue" is available on DVD.

Also recommended:
Sir Charles often cited THE GOLD RUSH (1925) as his favorite picture. (VHS edition) (DVD edition)

Parenthetical numbers preceding titles are 1 to 10 viewer poll ratings found at a film resource website.

(7.7) A Dog's Life (1918) - Charlie Chaplin/Edna Purviance/Syd Chaplin/Harry Bergman/Minnie Chaplin

(6.8) Shoulder Arms (1918) - Charlie Chaplin/Edna Purviance/Syd Chaplin/Jack Wilson/Harry Bergman

(7.4) The Pilgrim (1923) - Charlie Chaplin/Edna Purviance/Syd Chaplin/Mack Swain/Harry Bergman (uncredited: Mickey Daniels/Marion Davies)
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where are the actual dvd Reviews??, March 3, 2004
This review is from: The Chaplin Revue (2 Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
All the reviews posted on this dvd are for the vhs!! It's so annoying that no one seems to realize that there are not three, but SEVEN early chaplin shorts presented on the dvd (the extras have even more shorts)!! Also, the three from the 1958 re-edit entitled the 'chaplin revue' are available on the dvd in their ORIGINAL VERSIONS as well as the recut!! So will people stop complaining and give these shorts the attention and respect they deserve!! Also, I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend to get the box set for the chaplin collection vol. 2, which includes this, because to get the 7 movies separatly would be $175 retail and the box set includes a special documentary on chaplin NOT AVAILABLE SEPARATLY as well as the seven films for a retail of only $100!!
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33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Chaplin Slowdown, January 27, 2001
This review is from: Chaplin Revue [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Compiled, scored and narrated by Charlie Chaplin in 1958, "The Chaplin Revue" was a terrific idea to showcase three of the comedian's best films for First National: "A Dog's Life" (1918), "Shoulder Arms" (1918) and "The Pilgrim" (1923). Unfortunately, Chaplin tampered with these particular films by presenting them at a slower projection speed, which ruins the original comic timing and pacing. As a public service, avoid "The Chaplin Revue" and locate the out-of-print "First National Collection" on DVD. This excellent disc includes most of Chaplin's 1918-23 work at the proper projection speed. The difference is amazing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat uneven, November 23, 2006
By 
Anyechka (Rensselaer, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Chaplin Revue (2 Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
This two-disc collection showcases Chaplin's final 7 short subjects, made at First National Studios and spanning the years 1918 to 1923. While he began showing signs of greatness as early as 1915, most of his short subjects are kind of uneven, even though he got better year by year, refining his craft more and more. By about 1918, he had really hit his stride, although generally speaking I prefer his features to his shorts.

The shorts themselves are somewhat of a mixed bag, though none of them would I consider at the same level as his earliest shorts from 1914 and 1915. 'A Dog's Life' (1918), which kicks off the first disc, is one of the best on here. Everything is so flawless and perfect, by far one of Chaplin's best short subjects. Even the dog, Scraps (named Mutt in real life), is wonderful in his role. (It's kind of sad to watch it, though, knowing that not too long after it was released, Mutt died of a broken heart when his master went on away a Liberty Bonds drive.) Next up is 'Shoulder Arms' (1918), also a very strong comedy. Although this is a WWI-themed film and therefore demonstrates some of the usual anti-Hun propaganda of the times, it doesn't feel badly dated at all on account of that. The main focus of the short is on Charlie's adventures as a soldier, not a bunch of one-dimensionally evil rampaging Huns. The final short on disc one is 'The Pilgrim' (1923), his final short, and also one of his best. This one features the theme of mistaken identity, something Chaplin used a number of times in his work.

While the shorts on the first disc are all excellent and flawless, the ones on the second disc are more uneven. I personally consider the best to be 'The Idle Class' (1921), which also features the theme of mistaken identity, and 'Pay Day' (1922), featuring Charlie as a jovial bricklayer who is mercilessly henpecked by his domineering wife. The other two are 'A Day's Pleasure' (1919), built around the simple theme of Charlie trying to take his family out for a nice afternoon on the water but meeting obstacles at every turn, and 'Sunnyside' (1919), where Charlie works as a farmhand and in a general store. I'd say 'Sunnyside' is the weakest short on here; the story isn't that developed or engaging, and neither are the characters, which is somewhat suprising for a film done by this point in his career. It almost feels like one of his hit-and-miss shorts from his days at Keystone or Essanay. 'A Day's Pleasure' has a similar uneven feel, but at least it's somewhat more engaging. Probably one could attribute these two shorts' uninspired lacklustre feel to the fact that there were a lot of serious problems in Chaplin's personal life in 1919, such as his floundering first marriage and the death of his firstborn child just three days after his birth.

Extras are picture and poster galleries, a brief introduction by David Robinson (who does the introductions on all of the Chaplin DVDs), the trailer for all of the films in the two Chaplin boxed sets, the trailer for 'The Chaplin Revue' (a 1959 reissue Chaplin made of the three films on disc one, with his narration at the beginning of each segment), deleted scenes from 'Shoulder Arms,' a deleted scene from 'Sunnyside,' the propagandistic one-reeler 'The Bond' (1918), a two-reeler Chaplin made in 1918, 'How to Make Movies,' showing the viewer his new studio and how his films are made there, a short home movie from 1918 showing him with his friend Harry Lauder, and another home movie (I'd say from about 1919, judging by the presence of the set from 'Sunnyside') showing various celebrities hanging out at Charlie's house. Unfortunately, none of the bonus short films or deleted scenes have any accompanying music. I know that such short films don't justify doing a whole special score, but at least they could have put a generic piano or organ soundtrack on them to make them seem more alive.

While Chaplin's later short subjects are among his finest shorts, showing that he got better and better as he progressed, not all of them are up to the same top-notch level. While some of them would be very good for a first Chaplin film, overall it's not something I'd recommend to a brand-new fan. Most of the bonus films also aren't anything I'd want to watch over and over again, particularly because of their lack of a soundtrack.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superior early Little Tramp., May 14, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Chaplin Revue [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Three classics from the screen's first and finest comedian; wonderful entertainment for aficionados. Bonus: new music score and behind-the-scenes footage with Chaplin narrating.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great DVD, but not all the films are equal., April 4, 2004
By 
D. Mok (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Chaplin Revue (2 Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
Since Chaplin was making dozens of shorts a year, it's easy to guess that not all of them are of the same quality. So it is with this collection. There are several must-owns on here, however, and they have been mastered well onto DVD with loads of extra materials, so this release remains essential in a Chaplin collection.
The two flagships for me are "Shoulder Arms" and "A Dog's Life". "A Dog's Life" was the first complete Chaplin film I saw, and it continues to delight me with its lightning pacing, masterful gags, and fascinating use of music -- the high-comedy bits still feature the merry scores of usual Chaplin films, but the main theme is a weepy, dramatic orchestral piece which, when juxtaposed against the famous Chaplin sight gags, are remarkably funny, almost perverse. Chaplin's physical skills are unparalleled in this film, with the "human puppet" sequence, the employment centre, the fight with the wild dogs, and the opening "roll with the cops" sequence being the highlights. "Shoulder Arms" was a brave stab at making the First World War funny and Chaplin succeeded grandly. Luckily, he also had the good sense to cut out an entire first act, seen here on the DVD bonus materials, which had little to no bearing on the story and isn't all that funny anyway. The trench gags in this film are fast and hilarious; though the "enemy territory" section drags a little, the film remains great.
The remaining films range from hilarious to just okay: I like "Sunnyside", which takes the Tramp's frequent dashes of unrequited love to a new level; but "The Pilgrim" wears out its central gag long before it's over, and "The Idle Class" and "A Day's Pleasure" are excruciatingly slow.
There are more films on these two discs than on the other Chaplin DVDs in this series, so there is slightly less bonus material to peruse. But there's still quite a bit, such as a propaganda film with Chaplin and Edna Purviance, and deleted scenes from "Shoulder Arms". It's always great to actually see deleted scenes from such old films. This DVD set is still a worthy addition to this impressive series of Chaplin reissues.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Charles Chaplin was an amazing filmmaker...., August 18, 2004
By 
Zygmunt Dopierala (Melbourne, Victoria Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Chaplin Revue (2 Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
The new Chaplin Revue is the best. Especially for a sixteen year old like myself from Australia and I love all the Chaplin features and early shorts but I never got accustomed with his films for First National till now since before this they were never widely available.
The first film in this extraordinary collection is:
A DOG'S LIFE (1918). This is a beautiful film made in the same style as Chaplin's earlier masterpiece EASY STREET (1917). Chaplin, Edna Purviance and Syd Chaplin are just marvelous in this wonderful yet very emotional comedy.
SHOULDER ARMS (1918) is definitely one of my favourite movies of all time. It's funny and witty and just plain out superb and it has all my favourite Chaplin stock company players-Syd Chaplin, Edna Purviance, ALbert Austin, Henry Bergman, Loyal Underwood, Park Jones, interestingly Chaplin's cameraman Jack Wilson playing the German Crown Prince and Tom Wilson. A Marvelous film though I loved the original version better with all the emotional scenes with the 'Poor France' segment and other wonderful scenes of sentiment, however, for the 1959 reissue, Chaplin discarded it all so I reccomend the uncut version but this version is still very good.
Next we have:
SUNNYSIDE (1919)
A very funny comedy with a lot of nice Chaplinesque sequences but as a whole the film is not at all one of Chaplin's best.
A DAY'S PLEASURE (1919)
Can be funny at times but this movie is pretty crappy because it was just an excuse for Chaplin to give his distributor a new product whilst planning his masterpiece THE KID (1921).
THE IDLE CLASS (1921)
A brilliant and terrific short comedy and definitely one of CHaplin's finest shorts.
PAY DAY (1922)
This was one of Chaplin's favourites of his shorts and it's very clear why. This is an excellent short film and features better lighting and direction than in any other Chaplin shot, perhaps because it was his last of this sort. ALso features a wonderful score by Chaplin composed in 1972!
And last but not least we have THE PILGRIM from 1922 and released in 1923. This is one of Chaplin's forgotten masterworks but it is one of his finest comedies. The ending in particular is beautiful for its construction of camera shot and jokes.
Plus there are two bonus films on the DVD: THE BOND a WW1 Propaganda film Chaplin made to help the war effort by selling bonds and his unreleased project HOW MOVING PICTURES ARE MADE which he planned to release but his distributor did not allow plus other reasons. However it was reedited and retitled in the 1980s and restored by David Gill and KEvin Brownlow and it's a insightful look at the Chaplin Studios and some of the footage is shown in THe Chaplin Revue feature.
All in all, an excellent DVD and all films have been digitally remastered and they look like they were filmed today!
You'll love it all!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Steal of a Deal, September 27, 2008
This review is from: The Chaplin Revue (2 Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
Being a Chaplin fan, I own all of his movies except the Keystone days. I purchased this because the now defunct First National Collection is 9 (used) to 30 times more expensive than this collection, and doesn't include "A Dog's Life". I figured at worst, I would get a copy of "A Dog's Life" out of the deal. Other than the 2 discs being mismarked (switched) for content, I found absolutely nothing wrong with this collection as far as watchability due to the film speed, mentioned in other reviews. These films are all in fantastic condition and hilarious. I would recommend this product without hesitation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chaplin's First National Shorts, January 17, 2013
This review is from: The Chaplin Revue (2 Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
Charles Chaplin left Mutual Film in 1917 and signed a contract with First National. Their agreement amounted to more than a million dollars per year. Chaplin was the first movie star to sign such a lucrative offer. Loyal to his inner circle, he brought leading lady Edna Purviance and heavy Mack Swain with him, among others.

Although Chaplin's first feature length film, The Kid (1921), would emerge from his five years at First National, his relationship with the studio was not an amiable one. The struggles between artist and executives would inspire Chaplin to form his own studio, United Artists. Again, this was a first for Hollywood.

Most critics and film historians consider the First National films a notch below the work Chaplin did for Mutual. In the First national shorts, Chaplin's level of inspiration often noticeably wanes, so the general consensus is, for once, correct. Still, even lesser Chaplin is worthwhile (well, until we get to the late Chaplin features).

A Dog's Life (1918) was Chaplin's first short for First National. It was also the first movie to make a million dollars, more than justifying its considerable budget. Chaplin is in full Tramp mode here. Although an immensely popular film, and containing elements which Chaplin would develop more fully in The Kid, A Dog's Life is an uneven effort.

Dawn brings only another day of misery in poverty. The Tramp ingeniously tires to steal a hotdog, but policeman Tom Wilson shows up to soil the spoils (Wilson would appear as the same character in The Kid).

In flight, the Tramp saves a mongrel, Scraps, from a scrape with a pack of dogs. Scraps, like the Kid (and, the Gamin later still) is a reflection of sorts of the Tramp, creating an identifying bond between the two.

The Tramp is a scrapper himself, fighting desperately for employment, but to no avail, alas. Dog and man enter The Green Lantern bar to find a mother and wife figure in Edna, who, as an amusingly awkward torch singer, has the locals in buckets of tears. (Literally. This scene also includes Henry Bergman in mighty uncomfortable drag).

Edna's Big Boss Man threatens her with: "flirt or you're fired! Give them a wink and smile!" Poor Edna's just no good at flirting. "Do you have something in your eye?" asks the Tramp. Now Edna's out of a job.

Lo and behold, some local bank robbers have buried some money, which Scraps has located. It looks like Paradise has been found, but not before at least one more scrap (which involves a surreal rendezvous with the crooks in a booth).

An over-written, bucolic finale rings phony. Ambiguity pointing to a release from the hell of poverty would have worked considerably better.

Shoulder Arms (1918) finds Chaplin again in social commentary mode, which was a gutsy move considering that the star was under intense criticism for not having volunteered for service in WWI.

Sharp anti-war satire would not arrive full force until Duck Soup (1933) and, frankly, Shoulder Arms pales comparatively. Until the near-finale, it is what one might expect. Edna is, of course, the love interest. Here, she is a virginal French girl risking her life to save the American doughboy. Sydney Chaplin (Charlie's brother) also has a small role.

Chaplin's disguise as a tree on the war front (predating Bugs Bunny), is surrealistic and bizarrely funny. Essentially propaganda, Shoulder Arms
was an enormous hit.

A Day's Pleasure (1919) is anything but pleasurable; in fact, it's one of Chaplin's worst films. The star was working on The Kid (1921) at the time and First National was growing impatient with the amount of time he was spending on it. They demanded an immediate product and Chaplin responded by hastily slapping together A Day's Pleasure in a week.

Charlie and Edna are married and have two sons (one of which is played by an uncredited Jackie Coogan). Charlie loads the family up into the Model T. This new motor car contraption apparently has not had its morning coffee, which leads to mechanical slapstick, none of which is particularly funny. It's calculated mayhem, recycled from third-rate slapstick of the period.

Once the family is off and running, they arrive at a boat for a sea cruise. More third-rate slapstick, and a black musician turning white from sea sickness. After the excessively long cruise ends, Charlie is back in his Ford for more excruciatingly painful slapstick. The American public, never able to distinguish gems from excrement, made it a hit anyway, satisfying the coffers.

With The Kid behind him, The Idle Class (1921) is a different affair. Chaplin plays two roles: the Tramp and an alcoholic millionaire married to Edna. There is some inventive slapstick: the millionaire, seen from the back, seems to be having an emotional break down after reading a letter of rejection from his wife. When he turns to face the camera, we see he is actually mixing a drink. In another scene, the millionaire, having forgotten his trousers, uses a newspaper for a skirt, as he walks on his knees to the elevator.

Only Chaplin could make a game of golf seem kinetic. He shows his cruel streak here, stealing a cigarette case, allowing a fellow golfer (John Rand) to receive a brutal beating from Mack Swain (a beating which should have been the Tramp's), and doing an about face by playing good Samaritan to a girl thrown from a horse.

There is also a precursor for a later plot development in City Lights (1931). The Tramp, evading trouble, weaves in and out of parked limousines, emerges from an open door, and is mistaken for a millionaire.

Naturally, this is going to lead to identity mix-up, which occurs at a masked ball. The millionaire, Edna, Swain, and the Tramp engage in spirited hi-jinx. Although, primarily fluff, The Idle Class is one of the better First National efforts, highlighted by a near-perfect score from Chaplin.

Edna is daughter to Mack Swain again in Pay Day (1922), but the role amounts to little more than a cameo. Swain is a construction site foreman to the Tramp (called "the Laborer" here). There are slight shades of Modern Times (1936) to come (in the work site scenes).

Here the Laborer is married to a bully shrew (Phyllis Allen), complete with roller pin and curlers. The tension between them is meat of the film. When our hero has a drunken night out with friends (which includes Sydney Chaplin), you can rest assure that hell awaits in Phyllis scorned. Pay Day is paced well and has a near-classic ending in a bath tub.
Sunnyside (1919) opens with a not so subtle Chapliesque swipe at the hypocritical reverence inherent in Americana. Chaplin's iris opens on a church steeple cross. This dissolves into a frilly plaque, which reads "Love Thy Neighbor." The owner of the plaque is tyrannical farmer Tom Wilson. Tom wakes early to give the sleeping farmhand, Charlie, a forceful kick in the daily duties. That accomplished (after a few, predictable false starts), Tom returns to bed.

After breakfast is served, we learn that it is Sunday morning. All the true Christians are where they are supposed to be: in church. Charlie's loaded down with work, so he can't (and won't) join them. However, he will peek into what it's all about, by taking a look-see at the Good Book. While doing so, the herd of cattle he is leading wanders off and disrupts the church service, driving the parishioners out the doors. Chaplin's nose-thumbing at the the facade of rural reverence is about as subtle as a pair of brass knuckles. So much the better.

Next, Chaplin inserts a surreal dream. Some commentators assess it as an ill-fitting sequenc; the same was said of Chaplin's heaven vignette in The Kid (1921). I disagree here as much as I do to those objections re: The Kid. The Sunnyside dream is pure Chaplin and well suits the character as an escape from the phony piety to which he is subjected daily. After falling off a bridge, the Tramp dreams he is frolicking with flowered nymphs on a bucolic hillside. This is his idea of heaven, and more than justifies W.C. Field's astute observation that Chaplin was "a goddamned ballet dancer."

Unfortunately, the dream sequence is far too brief. Chaplin, in a much smaller way, was to American Protestantism what Luis Buñuel was to European Catholicism. However, Bunuel did it better. The true ill-fitting element in Sunnyside is the romantic subplot between the Tramp and leading lady Edna Purviance. Edna has another suitor: the Fat Kid, who is clearly slow on the uptake. The Tramp takes advantage of that weakness, cruelly ridiculing his rival.

Although it is an bad fit, and an extremely uncomfortable one at that, it does take us back, albeit briefly, to the Tramp of Keystone, who often revealed an inherent selfish, mean streak. So, in that sense, the revelation of a less than saintly Tramp is a bit refreshing, while admittedly wrecking the composition of the film.

The ending has a rushed feel, partly due to Chaplin's constant battling with First National.

The Pilgrim (1923) was Chaplin's last film for First National. It was also his final short. This is Chaplin's anti-clericalism at it's best. Audiences identified, making it a bona fide hit, much to the chagrin of the Evangelical Ministers Association and the Klu Klux Klan who teamed up (imagine that) to denounce The Pilgrim as a blasphemous mockery to organized religion.

Chaplin does not play the Tramp here. His character is the Pilgrim, an escaped convict disguised in clerical attire. At the train station, he purchases a ticket to Devil's Gulch, Texas. Meanwhile, the residents of that town are awaiting a Rev. Pim to fill in their newly open position of pastor. Unknown to them, and most convenient for the Pilgrim, the real Rev. Pim is running a week behind. Charlie, of course, steps off the train just in time for a case of mistaken identity.

The small congregation, lead by the Deacon (Mack Swain) are on hand to welcome their pseudo-pastor. Unfortunately for Charlie, he has stepped into the clerical shoes just in time for Sunday-go-to-meeting.

The Sunday promenade with Deacon Swain is highlighted by our Pilgrim swiping the elder's Southern Comfort. However, the Pilgrim doesn't even get in a swig before an inconvenient banana peel wastes that much-needed elixir.

Naturally, the service reveals this Rev. Pim as untried and uncomfortable, but he's not so awkward when it comes to making sure the collection plate is abundantly filled. Perhaps he is a true cleric at heart after all.

The homily is classic Chaplin. The Pilgrim picks the David and Goliath story to tell, but his Bible interpretation is refreshingly free of embedded theology. In buoyant pantomime, the good reverend depicts little shepherd boy David provoking the Philistine warrior Goliath. However, rather than a kill shot, David's wimpy little sling merely manages to provoke a minor headache in the giant. Provoked, rather than defeated, Goliath promptly draws his sword and decapitates the irksome gnat. A child in the congregation, who has not yet been conditioned by his religion, gives his new pastor a standing ovation, while the grown-ups stand in abject horror. They have come to the comfort and safety of church, only to have their traditional narrative exposed as myth. The most child-like persons in the church, the Pilgrim and his young fan, are the only two who appreciate it.

The service over, the Pilgrim is told he will be boarding with Edna and her elderly mother. An argument for pro-choice, a discovered wanted poster, and the appearance of an ex- prison cell mate will prove to be flies in the Pilgrim's ointment. Fortunately, he has a conscience and a guardian who will notice.

The Pilgrim is short on the trademark sentiment and admirably long on licentious parody.

*my reviews original appeared at 366 weird movies
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of the Revue, September 12, 2004
By 
Andrew McCaffrey (Satellite of Love, Maryland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Chaplin Revue (2 Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
In the "Chaplin Collection" DVD series, this is the one entry where Chaplin's short films are given the same digital cleanup, analysis and care that his features did. To be honest, this balance seems about right. I find his short films to be very hit-and-miss affairs with some occasional brilliance coupled with some material that I simply find a bit dull. He genius would be fully realized, I feel, when he moved into full-length movies and had more time to develop his storylines and his jokes. But the films presented here are fairly good -- not my favorites, but good. Although I enjoyed much of it, I had a few quibbles.

The only real annoying thing about this collection is that it's based upon re-releases that Chaplin did decades after the fact. Perhaps worried that the footage from the late 1910s would look dated, he decided to slow down some portions of the movie to reduce the jerkiness and make the movements look more natural. I'm not alone in stating that I feel this ruins some of the gags and completely throws off the timing. It's true that a lot of the jokes are funny enough to survive this, but I cannot help but find these speed variations distracting.

Of course, with the rough comes the smooth, and when Chaplin re-released those films, he did so with a synchronized soundtrack. I love Chaplin's musical compositions, so it's great to get some here for his short work. I particularly like the theme song he creates for "The Pilgrim", a slow rambling country song that sounds a hell of a lot better than most stuff that comes from "real" country musicians.

Negatives aside, there's a lot of fun stuff to be had. I like Chaplin's attitude, his sense of gallows humor. Themes we would see further developed and fleshed out later in his career are forming here. Constantly present is his sticking up for the "little guy", whether that be for the tramp or for, say, the soldier in "Soldier Arms".

These films aren't the funniest or the best, but they're a decent representation of Chaplin's short movies. If you already know that you like the films presented here, then this is definitely a good DVD set to pick up. The picture and sound quality are as good as we're going to get for stuff of this age, and the extra material is worthy of a viewing or two. Just note that they've messed up the labeling on this; the listing for disc one is actually describing the contents of disc two (and vice versa). Don't waste as much time as I did looking around the menus for things that are actually on the disc that's still in the packaging.
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The Chaplin Revue (2 Disc Special Edition)
The Chaplin Revue (2 Disc Special Edition) by Charles Chaplin (DVD - 2004)
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