Skating the Thin Line
After causing chaos in a restaurant whilst working as a waiter, Charlie (Charles Chaplin) heads to the roller skating rink where Charlie's ballet style roller skating sees him invited to the home of Edna (Edna Purviance) for a party where a customer from the restaurant who likes Edna also shows up.
One of the attractions of watching early Charlie Chaplin movies is not so much that they are entertaining, which they certainly are but also to watch the evolution of the comic genius. And "The Rink" is a great example of Chaplin's work from 1916 as it highlights how he had progressed but also showing us elements which he would go on to fine tune in later movies.
Now whilst "The Rink" lasts only 20 minutes you can see the difference between this and his very early movies. Whilst still predominantly little more than some sketches "The Rink" feels more scripted than those early movies which look like they were made on the fly. As such we have a series of set pieces in the restaurant before then delivering more set pieces at the skating rink and so on. They may barely flow together in the form of a narrative but they do look like they were worked out before hand rather than just Chaplin just clowning around in front of the camera.
The other element of "The Rink" is that whilst it is full of slapstick you can see gags which have become fine tuned since he first did them and some other gags such as one with restaurant swing doors which he would use to greater effect in later movies. Of course "The Rink" also shows another side to Chaplin as we watch his skills on roller skates which frankly are impressive. There is a real artistry to Chaplin on skates which whilst still amusing is also beautiful.
What this all boils down to is that "The Rink" is one of those movies which whilst still entertaining is just as interesting because of being able to see the evolution of Charlie Chaplin.