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56. The Pawnshop (1916)

Mutual 1916-17

Film still for The Pawnshop


Charlie plays the inept assistant at a pawnbroker's shop. We see him arriving late, putting his boss's back up and indulging in a running battle with the clerk while he makes a hash of the cleaning (including dusting an electric fan while it is on). He is sent outside to clean and repair the sign where he hits the clerk (and a policeman) repeatedly with ladders, buckets and the ball off the pawnbroker's sign. Inside again, Charlie blots his copybook for good by washing a violin, and the boss finally gives him notice. Charlie's mime of numerous offspring of diminishing size doesn't soften the boss's heart. Undaunted Charlie wanders off to the kitchen to flirt with the boss's daughter who is making cakes of plate-shattering density. After playing with doughnut dough and mangling the plates dry Charlie takes a turn at the counter and serves a variety of customers; a tragedian who must sell his wife's wedding ring or starve but, when offered a gratuity can make change from a huge roll of bills; a shady customer who insists on being taken into the back to inspect the diamonds and a man who wants to pawn an alarm clock - who watches in increasing astonishment as Charlie examines it like a doctor and takes it apart forensically before finally pronouncing it dead. Prevented in the nick of time from performing the 'acid test' on an old lady's goldfish, Charlie is relegated to the back. Here he continues his battle with the clerk and is consequently hiding in a trunk when the shady character robs the safe and holds up the staff with a gun. Charlie emerges, fells the villain with a rolling pin, and presses home his advantage by kissing the girl.


Charles Chaplin (Pawnbroker's Assistant)
Henry Bergman (The Pawnbroker)
Edna Purviance (His Daughter)
John Rand (The Other Assistant)
Albert Austin (Customer with Alarm Clock)
?Wesley Ruggles (Dramatic Customer with Ring)
Eric Campbell (Burglar)
James T. Kelley (Old Bum and Lady with Goldfish)
Frank J. Coleman (Policeman)
2 October 19 16
1940 ft
Other titles:
At the Sign of the Dollar, High and Low Finance