Plot: A pawnbroker’s assistant (Charlie Chaplin) has strolled in for another day’s work, late as usual, but chipper and optimistic. He is always in trouble for being late or getting into mischief, but he tries to stay on the good side of his boss (Eric Campbell) and more to the point, his boss’ beautiful daughter (Edna Purviance). In the meantime, the assistant does light chores around the shop, all while engaged in a rivalry with a fellow worker, leading to constant back and forth conflicts. As he fends off his rival and tries to woo the woman of his dreams, the assistant also has some colorful customers to tend to, including one that might not be what he seems.
Entertainment Value: This is one of Charlie Chaplin’s most hilarious shorts, which is a real compliment, given his impressive creative output. The short runs under half an hour, but is packed with great moments, including some set pieces that would be lifted by countless other comedy performers. The scene with the clock is simply masterful and timeless, a source of immense laughs and remarkable skill, with both Chaplin and Albert Austin in pitch perfect form. The timing, the reactions, the flow of the comedy, that scene is a true master class. The sequence with the ring is another excellent one and again, one that would be “borrowed” by other comedy performers for years to follow. Chaplin is in fine form throughout The Pawnshop and surrounded by a number of his regular costars, so the usual elements are all in place here. I think this is simply a fantastic, hilarious short that earns a high recommendation.