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Film / The Pilgrim

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The Pilgrim is a 1923 short film starring and directed by Charlie Chaplin. In this film, The Tramp is an escaped convict who steals the clothes of a Protestant minister. Running from the law, he hops on a train and picks at random a Texas border town as his destination. Upon his arrival he finds that the people of the town have been expecting their new minister to arrive, and think the Tramp is him. Charlie falls for one of his more attractive parishoners (Edna Purviance), but his life is further complicated when one of his old cellmates arrives in town and recognizes Charlie.

The Pilgrim was the last short film Chaplin ever made; in the future he would stick to features. It was also the last film in which he co-starred with Edna Purviance, who had played the female lead in dozens of Chaplin films, nearly every movie he had made since becoming his own producer in 1915. Shortly after this film Chaplin tried to establish Purviance as a dramatic actress by starring her in A Woman of Paris, which he directed but did not appear in except for a cameo. That film didn't do well, and Purviance retired from acting not long after.

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Tropes:

  • Bad Habits: Although he didn't really set out to do that, but rather took the first clothes he found.
  • Banana Peel: A kid drops a banana peel for Charlie to step on, which sets up another gag, as Charlie is carrying a bottle of whiskey in the back of his pants.
  • Bandito: At the end (see Let Off by the Detective below).
  • David vs. Goliath: Discussed Trope, as Charlie uses this topic for a spirited sermon. Apparently David's stone came out the back of Goliath's head.
  • Eye Take: The father of the Spoiled Brat does this when noticing his "cake hat" on the table.
  • Flashback Cut: Picking Pete is having s swift flashback to his time in prison after bumping into Charlie.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: How Charlie obtains his minister's clothes from a real minister who was taking a swim.
  • Iris Out: Many scenes fade out with this effect.
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  • Let Off by the Detective: Charlie takes the money back to Edna, and is promptly arrested by the sheriff. The sheriff then takes Charlie to the border and lets him cross into Mexico. Charlie sighs with relief—until some banditos start engaging in a gunfight. The film ends with a terrified Charlie literally straddling the border.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Charlie does this in the final scene.
  • Rolling Pin of Doom: A slapstick of a rolling pin continuously bumping on Charlie's head.
  • Run for the Border: Although in this case it's a benevolent sheriff who takes him there.
  • Spit Take: Charlie's reaction when he sees a policeman at the train station.
  • Spoiled Brat: The horrible child who keeps slapping both his own father and Charlie, as well as jabbing them with a sewing needle.
  • Sticky Fingers: Picking Pete has them.
  • Tap on the Head: Charlie goes out in the living room after a fight with Picking Pete, allowing the latter to flee.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: How the film establishes that the Tramp is a convict on the run.
  • What You Are in the Dark: After Charlie's cellmate steals all of Edna's money, Charlie chases him down and gets the money back. He could escape himself, but he takes the money back to Edna, and gets arrested.

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