The Cure (1917)

the cure pic The Cure (1917)

Run time: 24 min
Rating: 7.1
Genres: Short | Comedy
Director: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell
Storyline
Charlie goes to a spa to dry out, but he takes a trunk of liquor with him. He tangles with another’s gouty foot in a revolving door. Later he thinks the gouty man is making love signs to him (he doesn’t Edna, the real object of the man’s efforts), so he signs back. He interpets a massage to be a wrestling match. When management throws his liquor into the fountain, when flow the healthful waters, everyone gets drunk. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>
Details:
Release Date: 16 April 1917 (USA)

4 Comments

  1. IMDBReviewer

    October 17, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Measured in terms of sheer belly-laughs The Cure may well be the funniest movie Charlie Chaplin ever made. Not one moment is given over to sentimentality about unrequited love, childhood trauma, poverty or anything of the sort; this time around, Chaplin is single-minded in his drive to make us laugh, and he achieves his goal with ruthless and exhilarating efficiency.

    The story's setting may require a bit of explanation for younger viewers. At the time this film was made there were a number of well-known health resorts in the U.S. and Europe built around mineral springs. It was fashionable for middle- and upper-class people to spend a week or two at these spas to address whatever health problems they might be struggling with, for it was believed that mineral water cured or at least alleviated a variety of ailments. The resorts were visited by well-to-do patients afflicted with everything from rheumatism, gout, or polio to chronic alcoholism, and someone in the latter category who went to a spa to get clean and sober was said to be "taking the cure."

    When Charlie arrives at the spa that is our setting, pushed in a wheeled deck-chair by a uniformed attendant and obviously still tipsy, we know right away that despite the familiar mustache he's not the Little Tramp we usually encounter. Here, though slightly disheveled, Charlie sports a dapper ensemble of light jacket, straw boater, and spotted tie, indicating that he's a respectable bourgeois citizen who has come to this place– probably at the insistence of family or friends –to dry out. It's soon apparent that he has no intention of changing his ways, however, for his wardrobe trunk is full of booze and he wastes no time in refreshing himself. When an attendant tries to ply him with mineral water he reacts with disgust, and after taking a sip rushes back to his room to wash the taste out of his mouth with liquor. Just to demonstrate that he's not entirely a wastrel, however, Charlie gallantly rescues a young lady (Edna Puviance) from the unwelcome attentions of an obnoxious man (Eric Campbell), and even sobers up long enough to go for a massage and a very brief dip in the spa's pool. Eventually, Charlie's stash of liquor is discovered by the resort's manager and inadvertently dumped into the spring. Soon, everyone in the place except for Charlie and Edna is drunk and disorderly, and Charlie must once again come to Edna's aid.

    The great sequences in this comedy begin almost immediately when Charlie confronts a revolving door and has his first run-in with Eric Campbell, whose unpleasant personality determines that his gouty foot will be fair game for brutality thereafter. Campbell, who wears an especially nasty-looking beard, has a great moment when he appears behind Edna in the lobby, leering at her through a curtain like a crazed goblin. Things get a little risqué when Charlie misinterprets Eric's flirty gestures as intended for himself, but the real comic highpoint comes when Charlie heads for the pool and must fend off a beefy masseur (Henry Bergman). This scene is absolutely hilarious no matter how many times you see it, and stands with the best work of Chaplin's career.

    Perhaps the synopsis of The Cure will sound distasteful to anyone who hasn't seen the film; and granted, attitudes towards substance abuse have changed over time. I maintain that Chaplin was well aware of the seriousness of his subject matter– his own father died young as a result of alcoholism –and that he did not take it lightly. The true subject of this film was the contemporary fashion for health resorts, and much of the humor derives from poking fun at the proponents of the spring's curative powers. We see just enough of the spa's administrative staff to get a sense of their self-righteousness, a well-meaning but pompous attitude suggesting that they know all the answers and hold the key to health and happiness. Charlie with his trunk-full of booze is a dangerously subversive element in this atmosphere, and it's his (almost accidental) overthrow of authority that's funny and exhilarating.

    The Cure is beautifully staged, expertly performed, and hilarious. Where health and happiness are concerned I'd say that viewing it is as restorative as the spring waters touted by the resort's staff in the film: it's good and good for you.

  2. IMDBReviewer

    October 17, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Very simply the most hysterical of all his Mutuals! Charlie is not only inebriated throughout his stay in rehab but makes sure everyone in the place gets crocked too! A masterpiece! A riot! You’ll laugh until you wet your pants!

  3. rgkeenan

    October 17, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Charlie, an alcoholic, goes to a health spa for the water cure. He does so, however, only half-heartedly since his luggage is filled almost entirely with alcohol. Once at the spa, he flirts with the always-delightful Edna Purviance and battles with always-menacing Eric Campbell, who finds himself at slight disadvantage in this film since his character suffers from gout. This film, Chaplin’s tenth under his twelve-film Mutual contract, doesn’t quite scale the heights of his previous one, "Easy Street," but remains one of his most consistently funny shorts. A revolving door is used repeatedly for great comic effect, but the highlight of the film is the massage sequence where Charlie desperately tries to avoid the rough treatment masseur Henry Bergman deals out. Charlie interestingly abandons his normal tramp persona for this film. Although he felt rich drinkers were ripe targets for comedy, he felt that alcoholism in the working class was a serious problem which wasn’t suitable for comedy. (Don’t ask me for attribution, but I know he said that somewhere.)

  4. IMDBReviewer

    October 17, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Much of the delights in this short film involve a tipsy Charlie (whose luggage consists entirely of bottles, to the good fortune of the weirdly bearded porter) and a grouchy, gouty, Eric Campbell – a perfect foil for Chaplin, he’d be much missed after his death in a road accident later in 1917.

    Edna Purviance, Charlie’s usual sweetie in these short films, is a welcome presence, but it is Chaplin himself who shines throughout ‘The Cure’, whether struggling from the over zealous attention of a Turkish bath attendant, walking his funny walk up steps, or getting stuck along with Campbell in a set of revolving doors.

    It doesn’t get much better than this.

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