Saturday, July 9, 2016

LAUGHING GAS + "Charlot Has A Toothache"

Laughing Gas
Released July 9th, 1914
Written and directed by Charles Chaplin

Charlie portrays a dental assistant who winds up impersonating his boss, Dr. Pain.  This film may have been inspired by a Fred Karno sketch called, "The Dentist." Although Chaplin did not appear in the sketch, he was likely familiar with it. He revisits dental humor again forty-three years later in A King In New York.



Chaplin himself hated going to the dentist & toothaches frightened him. May Reeves remembered hearing "prolonged howls" coming from their bathroom in France in 1931. When she went to see what was the matter, Charlie was standing in front of the mirror moaning and holding his cheek."Undoubtedly," wrote May, "he was rehearsing for a film entitled Charlot Has A Toothache." His moaning and pain-induced facial expressions were so comic that they made her laugh and thus he began to laugh as well. In the end, Charlie was only afraid that he might have a toothache.1

Years later, Oona Chaplin recalled a visit to the dentist office in Lausanne. This time there was no laughter:
When he was getting on we thought we should take Charlie to the dentist...And we went to Lausanne and got Charlie into the dentist's surgery and promised him nothing would hurt. The girl was so nice and gentle and she examined his mouth and said, 'Oh dear, your teeth are packed with tartar.' And she gave a prod and he'd had enough. He got the girl's prong, threw it on the floor, and said, 'My teeth are perfectly packed with tartar and they're going to stay that way.' And he never went back.2

1May Reeves, The Intimate Charlie Chaplin
2Patrice Chaplin, Hidden Star

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