The Pilgrim (1923)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Pilgrim</strong> (1923)

(On Cable TV, June 2018) I wish I had just a bit more to say about Charlie Chaplin’s The Pilgrim than a basic “silent movie; fun to watch; doesn’t feature Chaplin’s Tramp character” statement, but I don’t. It features an escape convict passing himself off as a minister and ending up in a small East Texas town. Various comic hijinks ensue, with a rather good conclusion. But it is merely a 46-minute film, and much of it is wasted through pantomimes and title cards and longer ways to saying things that are perfectly obvious to modern audiences used to cinematographic grammar. Once you strip all of that away, there isn’t much left. Still, the movie isn’t too difficult to watch thanks to Chaplin’s mastery of the form and the constant gags. It doesn’t even really matter if he’s not playing the Tramp—in fact, given Chaplin’s tendency to inject pathos in the Tramp’s character, not having the Tramp makes for a more sustained comic experience. Otherwise, that’s it—The Pilgrim is recommended to silent movie enthusiasts, but not a transcendent example of the form like other movies of the time.

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