Plot: A man (Charlie Chaplin) has just been released from jail, with just five dollars in his pocket to start fresh. He no more walks down the street than he runs into a preacher, who comforts him with words of faith, only to pick his pocket when he wasn’t paying attention. This leaves the man in a spot of trouble soon enough, when his visit to a fruit stand sees him sample the wares, but finding his pockets picked cleaned. He manages to escape from the enraged fruit seller, but runs right into a stick-up man, though as it turns out, the two are former cellmates. As he has few options, the man agrees to assist the stick-up man with a house robbery, but things don’t go as planned when both the police and a little romance wind up as obstacles.
Entertainment Value: This is a fun one, a character driven short from Charlie Chaplin that has his usual masterful blend of humor and heart. Police might not be as laugh out loud hilarious as some of Chaplin’s work, but it is always humorous and I love how it focuses on characters over pratfalls. The movie still packs in physical humor and sight gags of course, but there is a slight restraint here, which means there’s more than just one slapstick moment after another. Even smaller roles like the stick-up man and the miser have a little depth, which to me adds a lot to the experience, even if it just icing on the cake. And make no mistake each scene is packed with jokes and laughs, but the pace finds this sweet spot, letting the humor breathe a little, rather than repetition and one joke on top of the other. The instances where the pace quickens are all the more effective because of that restraint, I think. Chaplin is brilliant and shows his mastery of timing and chemistry, not to mention physical humor. I always have immense fun with this one, so Police is highly recommended.