Chaplin's last short (or first feature?), The Pilgrim may not rank among his wildest or funniest, but it is a satisfying and warm film which hangs together even at four reels.
In the film, Charlie is an ex-con who is mistaken for the new preacher in a small western town and does his best to fill the role. Much of the humor comes from Charlie's perfectly natural but inappropriate reactions to the new situations he finds himself in. For example, presiding over his new flock at Sunday Service, he is handed a Bible by a deacon and immediately places one hand on it while raising his other as if he is being sworn in by a judge in a courtroom. Better gags occur when Charlie just can't help being Charlie, such as when he takes several curtain calls after his sermon!
Charles Reisner, who plays a pickpocket who recognizes Charlie from their shared time in prison, was not only a member of Chaplin's stock company at First National, but also his second unit director. Reisner would go on to direct such films as Keaton's STEAMBOAT BILL JR., the All-Star MGM talkie THE HOLLYWOOD REVUE OF 1929, The Marx Brother film THE BIG STORE and Abbott and Costello's LOST IN A HAREM.
The Pilgrim is the last film in which Chaplin and
leading Edna Purviance starred together, although he would direct her
in A WOMAN IN PARIS, in which he had a cameo. Glenn Mitchell,
author of The Chaplin Encyclopedia, believes Purviance makes cameos in the much later Chaplin films MONSIEUR VERDOUX and LIMELIGHT ½ - JB