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Film / The Idle Class

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The Idle Class is a 1921 short film written by, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin.

Chaplin's Tramp sneaks into a golf resort and hits the links. His cockeyed golfing style and his habit of stealing balls causes a lot of confusion. At the same time, an alcoholic rich dude who just happens to look just like the Tramp (also played by Chaplin of course) arrives at the resort along with his unhappy wife (Chaplin's regular leading lady, Edna Purviance). The wife leaves her husband because he won't quit drinking. Meanwhile, the Tramp, running from cops, dashes into a masquerade ball at the resort...and the rich guy gets his head stuck in a suit-of-armor helmet...

This film is in the public domain and may be viewed in its entirety here.


Tropes include:

  • The Alcoholic: The aristocrat. After reading a note from his wife that she is leaving until he quits drinking, the aristocrat seems to be weeping—but when he turns around it's revealed that he's actually shaking up a cocktail.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: The Tramp keeps hitting other people's balls and antagonizing them. Eventually he finds that his ball has landed right in the mouth of another hobo, who is sleeping on the grounds. The Tramp steps on the hobo's stomach, causing the ball to fly out, whereupon Charlie hits it in the air.
  • Forgetful Jones: The aristocrat is established as being very forgetful. He forgets to go to the train station and thus misses his train with Edna. Later he forgets to put on pants before leaving his hotel room.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: See Masquerade Ball.
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  • Identical Stranger: Chaplin plays both the Tramp and a drunken rich guy.
  • Idle Rich: It's in the title. Lots of idle rich folks playing golf and partying at the resort.
  • Imagine Spot: The Tramp sees the lovely Edna riding by on a horse and has an elaborate fantasy sequence where he rescues her from a runaway horse, then they get married and have kids.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: Lots. At the end, Edna's father, at her suggestion, seeks out the Tramp, says he's sorry, and shakes the Tramp's hand. Charlie then distracts him, kicks hiim in the butt one last time, and runs away.
  • Manly Tears: The big guy on the golf course bursts into tears when the Tramp's errant golf shot shatters his whiskey flask.
  • Masquerade Ball: Conveniently, the aristocrat gets stuck in a suit of armor so no one can see his face, while everyone assumes the Tramp is just the aristocrat dressed as a tramp for the ball.
  • Naked People Trapped Outside: Well, he isn't naked, but a whole sequence involves the rich man forgetting to put his pants on before he strolls out into the lobby. He winds up being trapped in a phone booth after he realizes this.
  • Pants-Free: The aristocrat gets dressed up at a resort to meet his lovely wife at a train depot. When he walks out of his room, it is revealed that he forgot to put on pants and is walking to the depot in his underwear. He doesn't find out until he enters a phone booth and looks down. He tries to hide this, but his wife eventually finds him and leaves him until he stops drinking.
  • The Tramp: Likes to play golf.


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