The Floorwalker

The Floorwalker is a 1916 American silent comedy film, Charlie Chaplin’s first Mutual Film Corporation film. The film stars Chaplin, in his traditional Tramp persona, as a customer who creates chaos in a department store and becomes inadvertently entangled in the nefarious scheme of the store manager, played by Eric Campbell, and the store’s floorwalker, played by Lloyd Bacon, to embezzle money from the establishment.

The film is noted for the first “running staircase” used in films which is used for a series of slapstick that climaxes with a frantic chase down an upward escalator and finding they are remaining in the same position on the steps no matter how fast they move. Edna Purviance plays a minor role as a secretary to store manager.

The Plot

Charlie enters a department store and annoys the staff with his antics. Meanwhile, the store’s manager and the floorwalker are conspiring to rob the store’s safe. When they finish putting the safe’s contents into a bag, the floorwalker knocks out the manager and flees with the money. Just as the floorwalker is about to exit, he encounters Charlie who looks very much like him. He persuades Charlie to act as his substitute. Nevertheless, the floorwalker is arrested, but Charlie ends up holding the bag. The manager sees Charlie with the bag and begins to chase him around the store. At one point the two men are running down an upward escalator without getting anywhere. Police become involved in the chase and the manager ends up with his head stuck in an elevator—while Charlie helps to keep it there.

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