The Rink

The Rink, a silent film from 1916, was Charlie Chaplin’s eighth film for Mutual Films. The film co-starred Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell, Henry Bergman, and Albert Austin, and is best known for showcasing Chaplin’s roller skating skills.

The Plot

Charlie plays an inept and sometimes clumsy waiter at a restaurant. One of his customers is the hot-tempered Mr. Stout. Charlie determines his bill by examining what he has spilled on his suit. While he is not a great server, Charlie is an excellent skater at the nearby roller rink. He meets a girl there and saves her from the unwanted attentions of the same Mr. Stout he earlier encountered at the restaurant. The grateful girl invites Charlie to a skating party. Charlie accepts and attends the party in top hat and tails. He again encounters the volatile Mr. Stout and runs afoul of Mrs. Stout. While skating, Charlie accidentally falls on her and pulls down her skirt. The skating party quickly descends into a riot. The police are called to restore order, but Charlie escapes by deftly rolling away with his cane hooked to the back of a moving automobile.

Chaplin’s obvious skill on roller skates surprised many of his fans, but Charlie was an experienced performer. As a touring vaudevillian with Fred Karno’s pantomime troupe, Chaplin appeared in a roller-skating skit in which he displayed talent for comedic falls–and the ability to cause other skaters to topple.

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