Repetitive and obvious, but drunken slapstick is universal, particularly when performed by a master. Could have been solid gold 10-15 minutes shorter, but Chaplin never fails to make me giggle. To steal from Barton Fink: Charlie Chaplin. Drunk in a house full of props. Whaddaya need, a road map?!
The common man's Nijinsky! Cosmo Kramer is his grand-nephew. I wonder, too, if this was an influence on Scorsese's After Hours. Remember Teri Garr's clock? Wonderful, improvised-feeling tango score by Carl Davis (six steps forward, six steps back) with Debussy and other witty nods. Here's Davis on scoring the Mutuals: https://silentlondon.co.uk/2015/04/16/music-for-charlie-chaplin-carl-davis-on-scoring-the-mutuals/
Evidence that minds in 1916 had a longer attention span. With no appreciation or prior exposure to vaudeville, One A.M. reads like an interpretive modern dance piece. Chaplin is absolutely enchanting to watch and the struggles strike a chord with this alcoholic.
Great print! Remember when drunkenness and slapstick were funny? It wasn't that long ago. Chevy Chase and Jim Carrey did the slapstick. Dudley Moore, Foster Brooks, Dean Martin and Dick Van Dyke played the drunk. It's a different time. The drunk stuff doesn't seems as funny anymore. There may be a time in the future when it comes back.
The premise is a bit small to sustain 27 minutes, but One AM is well worth it for two reasons beyond the joy of seeing Charlie do his thing. First is the sense in which he was experimenting, like Hitchcock with Rope, seeing how much he could twist his formula and still have a film. Second is the use of the set, the way mundane objects get repurposed in comic, anarchic ways. Proto-Tati, for sure.
All 1916 Chaplain get 4 or 5 stars. Unadorned. A camera on a tripod. Barely detectable tilt shots to keep his body w/in the frame. Slight pans. Aside from that, it's all Charlie. A masterful performance by a master of the craft. We are able to see the transition from the vaudeville stage to celluloid and the self-deprecation that made Chaplain a working class hero for millions of people at the dawn of modernity.