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Film / The Vagabond

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The Vagabond is a 1916 film written by, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin.

In this two-reeler, Charlie is an itinerant violinist. The opening scene features Charlie at a bar trying to make some money by playing, only to stumble into a confrontation with a four-man band. The action then cuts to Charlie, on foot on a country dirt road as he is so often found. He stumbles across a Romani ("Gypsy") caravan, and notices a particularly pretty young woman (Edna Purviance, Charlie's regular leading lady) who is being held as a slave by one Romani couple. Charlie is smitten and determines to liberate the girl.

An example of Acceptable Ethnic Targets in its portrayal of gypsies as evil kidnappers.


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Tropes:

  • Bar Brawl: Charlie starts one off when he goes into the bar and unwittingly collects the money for the considerably more competent band outside.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: A pretty dramatic contrast between beautiful Edna and the hideous Gypsy hag who drives her.
  • Ceiling Cling: Charlie positions himself in a tree branch that might be nine feet off the ground. Charlie, wielding a wooden club, first knocks out Edna's slavemaster, then knocks out five of his buddies, leaving a pile of five unconscious men under the tree branch. No one ever looks up.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The artist who paints Edna's portrait gets it displayed in a gallery. The gallery is visited by a rich society lady, who just happens to be Edna's mother. The Gypsies kidnapped Edna many years ago, when she was a child.
  • Deus ex Machina: An artist appears out of nowhere, painting landscapes. He sees Edna and paints her portrait. This results in a family reunion.
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  • Distinguishing Mark: The rich lady recognizes her daughter in the portrait by a birthmark.
  • Happy Ending: It seems like it's headed for Chaplin's typical Did Not Get the Girl ending, except that Edna, being whisked away by her mother and the artist, realizes that she really loves Charlie. She has the car turn around and go back for him.
  • Love Epiphany: "The awakening of the real love" as her mother's car is taking Edna away, leaving Charlie behind. Edna insists that they go back and get him.
  • Nameless Narrative: As usual for Chaplin's features, no names for any characters.
  • No Peripheral Vision: The only explanation for why no one saw Charlie in the tree branch.
  • A Taste of the Lash: The Romani man is quite brutal to Edna, whipping her whenever she steps out of line.
  • The Tramp: Charlie's regular character, except here he's trying to make some money with a violin.
  • Wandering Minstrel: Charlie has a violin and is wandering around playing outside bars.
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