16 August 2008

The Bond (1918)

d. Charles Chaplin / USA / 11 mins.

Douglas Fairbanks, Al Jolson, and Mary Pickford were among the celebrities enlisted by the government to make public appearances in support of the U.S. Liberty Bond financial effort during World War I. Charles Chaplin made appearances, too, but perhaps his most widespread effort came in the form of a 1918 propaganda short called The Bond, which he made at his own expense.

Because it's propaganda, there's no doubt the film plays it safe in terms of its comedy, which may be why it's not very funny. Using a plain black set with bright white props (no doubt to keep costs down), The Bond attempts to show in a humorous manner the varieties of American bonds – friendship, marriage, and of course financial bonds, which empower Chaplin to take a gigantic mallet to the Kaiser's head. The film is perhaps only of interest to those interested in Chaplin's early career. (Those who are aware of his full career, however, will find it ironic that he make a propaganda short free of charge for the U.S. government, which would later revoke his re-entry permit during the height of McCarthyism.)

Note: The Bond can barely be considered an official entry into Chaplin's filmography, and it has not been rated on the star scale.


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