The always socially-aware Chaplin here addressing the evils of poverty and street violence through the universal language of slapstick. Full of pathos and comedy with an indeed transgressive-for-the-times twist with the inclusion of a sequence on drug abuse.
The Tramp reforms and becomes a cop in one of the toughest streets in town. His efforts are thwarted by big brutish bully Eric Campbell. He is pursued by Campbell while trying to woo lovely Edna Purviance. Like all of Chaplin's shorts for Mutual, this is a gem.
One of my favorite Chaplin shorts. Not only are the gags great but the story and background are deeper than a lot of his early films. Chaplin hearkens back to his youth on the not-so-easy streets of South London, with street gangs, charities, dope addicts and mission houses, with the innocent but subversive tramp at the center. "Love backed by force" is the message at the end.
At odds with a mother, a beauty, a thief, a brute, a junkie and a gang of miscreants and in the place of an onslaught of gags, this Chaplin shows off his physical capability; whether hurdling in and out of open windows, slipping down stairs, sliding down a pole or jousting with the brute, the momentum is quite palpable. Violence abound, a body, as limp as a doll, is used as a weapon in one of the pivotal scenes.
A really wonderful short! The main attraction is Chaplin's scrawny charm and acrobatics pitted against a well-built thug, but you can already see the way he used comedy to address poverty and cruelty (themes of his childhood). The finale, where he gets strength from accidentally poking himself with a junkie's needle, is a corker.
The usually so anti-establishment Charlie becomes a cop! (He needs the money). Mostly a lot of cheesy slapstick-thugs chasing Charlie around, and Charlie hitting them on the head with his nightstick, but I'm giving this one an extra star for the luridness of showing a junkie shooting up.