Cruel, Cruel Love has a lot of possibilities. Sadly, director Nichols doesn’t realize any of them. He’s interested in broad physical humor–wrestling, actually–and having Charlie Chaplin mug for the camera. Chaplin does a fine enough job mugging, but it goes on forever.
Love concerns an engaged couple, Chaplin and Minta Durfee. When Durfee sees him helping her maid (after the maid trips), Durfee ends the engagement. Already, Love‘s on its own plane of reality.
Chaplin responds by drinking poison, hence the mugging as he convulses. Except he didn’t really take poison, his butler (Edgar Kennedy) tricked him. Maybe he wanted to see Chaplin mug for the camera too.
The viewer knows Chaplin’s fine almost immediately, which kills Love‘s suspense. I kept waiting for Nichols and writer Craig Hutchinson to do something smart with the plot. I’m still waiting.
Love‘s not a terrible short, but it’s a lame one.
Directed by George Nichols; written by Craig Hutchinson; director of photography, Frank D. Williams; produced by Mack Sennett; released by Mutual Film.
Starring Charles Chaplin (The Lord), Edgar Kennedy (The Butler), Minta Durfee (The Lady), Eva Nelson (The Maid) and William Hauber (The Gardener).