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His Favorite Pastime
IMDB Rating: 5.1/10 from votes
Release: 16 March 1914 (USA) /

His Favorite Pastime

Genre: Comedy, Short
Director: Craig Hutchinson,
Stars: , , ,
Synopsis: Charlie gets into a fight at his regular bar and finally crawls out under the door. He then boards a streetcar and follows a beautiful lady in a taxi. He breaks into her home. Her husband comes finds him trying to seduce his wife. Written by Ed Stephan <[email protected]>

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Critic Reviews

Just as Babe Ruth struck out now and then, and George Gershwin hit the occasional sour note, Charlie Chaplin made a few comedies during his apprenticeship at Keystone that don't hold up all that well. In the better efforts we can detect a great talent struggling to emerge from the chaos, and there are good moments scattered about, while a couple of them (I'm thinking of The New Janitor and Caught in a Cabaret) are quite satisfying: nicely constructed films with funny gags and a story to tell. However, several of the Keystones-- and I say this as a lifelong Chaplin fan --are a chore to sit through. Too many of them are burdened with an overload of silly histrionics and painful-looking slapstick violence, and those good moments are hard to find.

Well, the good moments are scarce indeed in His Favorite Pastime. The main problem is that Chaplin's character is so obnoxious: he looks like the Little Tramp but he sure doesn't act like him. Most of this film is set in a pub, and once Charlie's had a few shots he turns into a mean drunk. There's a vigorous workout involving a swinging door, and it's mildly amusing, but the routine lacks the finesse Chaplin would bring to such business later on, in far better comedies such as The Cure. Moreover, in his later work the characters taking the brunt of the violence usually deserved it. Here, by contrast, when an inoffensive washroom attendant (a white actor wearing black-face makeup) holds out his hand for a tip, Charlie drops in a lighted match instead of a coin and burns the man's hand. Ouch! Later, thoroughly blotto, Charlie follows a pretty woman home, walks right into her house, and makes a pass at her. Actually, on his first attempt, he accidentally makes the pass at her 'colored' maid (again a white performer in black-face), and is horrified when he realizes his mistake --a very unusual racial gag in Chaplin's work, and another strike against this comedy. Really the only worthwhile moment is a nice demonstration of physical dexterity, when Charlie falls over a banister, lands on a sofa, and then casually lights a cigarette.

There are a couple points of minor interest in His Favorite Pastime concerning the cast: the opening sequence in the saloon features Chaplin's Keystone colleague Roscoe Arbuckle, so heavily disguised as a shabby drunk that he's barely recognizable. Where laughs are concerned nothing much comes of the scene, but it's interesting to note Arbuckle's resemblance to Orson Welles in his grizzled makeup for Touch of Evil, made many years later. Also, the society lady Charlie follows home is played by an actress variously known as Peggy Pearce and Viola Barry, who reportedly was romantically involved with Chaplin for a brief time during his stint at Keystone. She isn't given much to do in this film, but can be seen to better advantage opposite Lillian Gish in D. W. Griffith's Biograph drama of 1913, The Mothering Heart.

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