Plot: A tramp (Charlie Chaplin) has a colorful dream in which he is a caveman, part of a tribe ruled over by the ruthless King Lowbrow (Mack Swain). The king keeps a tight hold on the tribe’s women, building quite the harem, but the tramp is determined to find love, regardless of the king’s wishes. He plots to overthrow the king so he can be with his beloved, but even after an assassination attempt, Lowbrow survives and of course, the tramp’s problems only grow worse from there.
Entertainment Value: The idea of Charlie Chaplin as a caveman is a fun one, though His Prehistoric Past doesn’t turn out to be one of his better shorts. I suppose that is kind of the downside to Chaplin’s lesser work, even when it is enjoyable, it pales in comparison to his masterful creations. A good problem to have I suppose, as it speaks to the genius of his upper tier shorts and features. This short has a few laughs, but banks too much on the caveman gimmick and the material is weak. The slapstick is basic and doesn’t go much beyond “hit someone with a club” and the energy, creative touches, and heart that Chaplin would become world famous for isn’t on showcase here. I still think his fans will appreciate the unique prehistoric elements and given how many movies he made, you just can’t expect them all to be classics.
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