The Pilgrim (1923)
A former convict assumes the identity of the new minister expected by a small-town church congregation, allowing his better nature to come out until climactically being exposed as a fraud. This film is one of Chaplin's final short comedies, balancing the hilarious and sad, on his way to feature-film maturity.
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Critic Reviews for The Pilgrim
Audience Reviews for The Pilgrim
Has some good moments, but doesn't go far enough with poking fun at small-town morals. The little western ballad about going to Texas was written by Chaplin, but the version recorded in the '70s that I think was accompanying the VHS copy I watched seemed out of place. Charlie Chaplin's brother Syd plays multiple roles. Mack Swain and Loyal Underwood are large and small deacons from the congregation, who are expecting their new parson at the train station. Tom Murray is the town sheriff. Purviance is a girl from the congregation. And Charles Reisner is a local crook. Based on the quick glimpse of Chaplin's wanted poster, I think his character was actually known as Lefty. From the first time we see Lefty he is disguised as a preacher. Immediately he is tested by having to lead a church service. He gives an amusing pantomime of the David and Goliath story and watches the congregation's tithing carefully. When he meets the church member and her daughter (Purviance), who will give him room and board, he decides to turn over a new leaf. Reisner's character, who goes by many aliases, recognizes Lefty from time they spent in jail together. Lefty constantly keeps an eye out for the sheriff and now he needs to make sure the other crook doesn't ruin the nice situation in which he finds himself. There are a handful of good physical gags, yet despite the longer run time, the characters and story do not feel like they are developed as fully as they could be.More
This is another Chaplin film dealing with a touchy subject, religion, and still being hilarious without being offensive to anyone as well. This was his last short for First National and was an early indication at how his style had developed and progressed and a basis for what his feature lengths would entail. Charlie is mistaken for a minister when indeed he is a wanted man, albeit one with a good conscious and he demonstrates it when fighting off a robber from his border's house. Eventually he is knocked out and the money stolen but he goes after the crook and through some clever devising gets the money back and returns it to it's rightful owner. A policeman has no choice but to arrest him but shows mercy in light of his good deed and lets him out at the Mexican border so he can stay a free man. Of course the second he steps over three men come out shooting at one another and Charlie takes off hopping between both boundaries away from the chaos.More
Charlie Chaplin made this short about mistaken identity in the fashion of "We're No Angels" in 1923, but the plot and comic sequences are very far ahead of its time. The ending was very surprising, as we all thought the Tramp will have peace and quiet in Mexico, there appears 3 Tuco, Blondie, Angel eyes-like people shooting each other! And his confused walk in the end was hilarious!More
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