Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Pilgrim


I have seen all of Charlie Chaplin’s feature-length movies at least once, and the large majority of his two-reelers, but every so often a short one comes to my attention that I’ve never seen. Here is one. He had already made two features: Shoulder Arms, and The Kid. After this one it would be all features. And this isn’t really a two-reeler, more like a four-reeler, coming in at 40 minutes. I have never seen a bad Chaplin film, but this is not his strongest. He is an escaped con who steals a pastor’s clothes complete with hat and clerical collar. He winds up in a small Texas town that was expecting a new padre, and is mistaken for that worthy. He dodges the law and an old cellmate, does battle with a bratty kid, and delivers a sermon on Samson and Goliath in pantomime. All good stuff, and there are other good bits of business, but the story is weak and short on action. His Little Tramp shorts are much better than this. His brother Syd plays three parts, and the great Mack Swain, Charlie’s co-star in The Gold Rush, has a part. This is his last movie with his long-time leading lady, Edna Purviance.