T. it.: La cura miracolosa. Scen.: Charles Chaplin. F.: Roland Totheroh. Int.: Charles Chaplin (alcolizzato alle Terme), Edna Purviance (ospite delle Terme), Eric Campbell (signore con la gotta), Henry Bergman (massaggiatore), Albert Austin (infermiere), John Rand (infermiere/massaggiatore), James T. Kelley (fattorino decrepito), Frank J. Coleman (proprietario), leota Bryan (infermiera), Tom Wood (paziente), Janet Miller Sully, Loyal Underwood (visitatori). Prod.: Charles Chaplin per Lone Star Mutual. Pri.: pro.: 16 aprile 1917. DCP. 2 reels.
In part inspired by the sketch by Fred Karno, The Hydro (set in a health spa), and as Chaplin often claimed in part from his direct experience living at the Los Angeles Athletic Club at the time, The Cure is the most multi-voiced and, according to many, the funniest of the films Chaplin directed and starred in for Mutual.
It’s also one Chaplin short on which we have more insight. Thanks to the valuable work of Kevin Brownlow and David Gill we’ve been granted a look at the making of The Cure and can trace it back to its origins, with all of its revisions and adjustments.
On the one hand, looking at the film today, one is struck by the rhythm, the relentless torrent of sophisticated comic routines and of the perfectly matched cast beside him; on the other hand we know that this perfect casting and that some of the initial gags were not the product of spontaneous instinct but of many repeated efforts, each slightly different than the one before, with various versions and even role changes (with Chaplin originally playing the hotel bellboy). At the same time it is clear that Chaplin already, in this early stage of his career, had the ability and understanding when to sacrifice a scene, even a successful one, so as not to affect the overall harmony of the piece, or throw the various elements out of balance, as in the case of the wonderful gag of the traffic jam of wheelchairs that survives only in the Unknown Chaplin. These revelations take nothing away from the enjoyment of The Cure, as it stands, and in fact as Bazin claimed, the best Chaplin films can be enjoyed over and over: “because the pleasure you get from certain gags is as inexhaustible as it is profound, mainly because the comic form and aesthetic value hardly rely on surprise at all. The element of surprise, gone after the first viewing, is replaced by the much more refined pleasure of waiting for and then savoring the perfection”.