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Getting Acquainted
IMDB Rating: 5.7/10 from votes
Release: 5 December 1914 (USA) /

Getting Acquainted

Genre: Uncategorized
Stars: , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Charlie and his wife are walking in the park when they encounter Ambrose and his wife. The partners become fond of their counterparts and begin chasing each other around. A policeman looking for a professional Don Juan becomes involved, as does a Turk. Written by Ed Stephan <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews

It's time for more fun in the park: two restless husbands leave their wives behind, flirt with other women, get involved in brief but heated confrontations, chase each other through the shrubbery and, ultimately, receive harsh punishment from a cop who seems to be on permanent Flirtation Patrol. Dozens of Keystone comedies fit this description, but Getting Acquainted is a fairly amusing example of the familiar routine. It's a little less frantic than some shorts and decidedly less violent than the Keystone norm of the day. This was the second-to-last comedy Charlie Chaplin made for Mack Sennett, and it feels almost like a sentimental farewell to the old gang. Here's what passes for "sentimental" at Keystone: no bricks are hurled, no mallets wielded, no bombs explode, and not one person gets thrown into the pond. That said, Charlie does receive a rather nasty-looking stab in the butt early on, and the mustachioed cop (Edgar Kennedy) who pursues the errant husbands delivers a couple of vigorous conks on the head with his billy-club, but compared to some Keystone efforts this one amounts to a genteel tea party.

At times the camera lingers on the players for a quiet moment or two in between intrigues, giving us a chance to observe them more closely than was generally the case in these brisk one-reel comedies. The couples at the center of the action certainly look mismatched: pint-sized Charlie is paired off with the much larger, older, gorgon-like Phyllis Allen (who would also play his formidable spouse years later in Pay Day) while Mack Swain, obese and unsightly, is paired with petite, pretty Mabel Normand. We meet Charlie and Phyllis first (although this opening scene is missing from some prints), and they make such an inappropriate-looking couple the casting itself serves as a sight gag. Next we meet Swain and Normand, as Mack kindly assists a motorist with his car. Soon afterward we recognize that this film's theme concerns people who don't belong together, searching in vain for their true partners. Or, I don't know, maybe it's really about comedians in quaint outfits, chasing each other through shrubbery.

In any case, Charlie quickly ditches his wife and tests the water with blonde Cecile Arnold, but he is distracted and then driven away by her escort, a mysterious man wearing a fez. I wanted to know more about this fellow, but apparently he's there solely to supply a touch of the exotic. Come to think of it, this couple looks mismatched too, visually anyway, but they appear perfectly content with each other during their brief scenes. Once Charlie meets Mabel he forgets all about Cecile and wastes no time in trying to make an impression on this new potential conquest. First he taps Mabel's bottom with his cane, then within moments he raises the cane and 'accidentally' hooks her dress with it. When Mabel reacts with shock Charlie disengages his cane and gives it a quick spank. Mabel's attitude towards this strange little cad never improves after this startling introduction, but soon Charlie is too busy getting chased through the park by Kennedy and Swain to care. Edgar Kennedy, by the way, gives the film's most lively performance as the crazed cop.

Getting Acquainted is diverting if not exactly memorable, while its comparatively relaxed, methodical tempo stands in notable contrast with Chaplin's other Keystone "park" comedies. It's lightweight fun while it lasts, and it's nice that we're granted a few moments to appreciate Mabel Normand's dark-eyed beauty. This film marked Chaplin's last teaming with Mabel, seen here while still in her youthful prime.

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