Tango Tangles

Director: Mack Sennett

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Tango Tangles; aka, Charlie's Recreation; or, Spring Fever; or, Music Hall (1914) is a one-reel comedy, Chaplin's twenty-third film for Mack Sennett's Keystone Studio, where he'd been working since February under a swift & constant shooting schedule, with quantity more important to Sennett than quality.

Tango TanglesIt opens with a couple dancers all alone, doing a combination ballroom & ballet performance, practicing for later in the evening, when there's to be a ball. In the next scene several revellers have appeared, & two women are doing a can-can together.

Charlie playing a drunken lout steps forward from among the revellers & tries to join the girls at the can-can, but is so drunk he falls on his ass. He gives his hat & cane to the hatcheck girl (Sadie Lampe), offers a few unwanted flirtations, but refuses to tip her.

The hatcheck girl has several admirers including the fighting-mad trumpet-playing band leader (Ford Sterling) who very soon starts a fight with an obese clarinettist (Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle) who tried to move in on the popular gal. When the rival musicians are performing, that's when drunken Charlie makes his move.

When the dancing is under way, the trumpet player pretends to be ill so he can leave the bandstand & rush to protect his claim. In the fight that ensues Charlie gets in the best punches which permits Sterling to have the funnier performance staggering from the blows. But when he unexpectedly gives Charlie a wet kiss followed by a smack, Charlie staggers off in confusion.

The fat clarinettist leaves the bandstand to fight the victorious trumpet player. The fat guy swings widely hitting other dancers & the trumpeter flees, encountering Charlie who he'd rather fight than a big guy.

They circle each other & though few punches are landed the trumpeter is soon staggering from being punch-drunk & they wear each other out until the trumpeter is too pooped to go on, & so it all ends.

Screentime is apportioned between Charlie, Fatty, & Ford as though they were of equal importance, & writer-director-producer Mack Sennett really didn't fully realize Charlie's star value, not that anything in this role would reveal it.

Charlie is not playhing his Tramp character, & certainly isn't sympathetic, though neither is anyone else. Most of the shtick quite simply fails, but there's a momentary bit when Ford & Charlie are trying to wear the same jacket which is marginally funny.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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