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Charlie Chaplin [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Digitally mastered
  • Interactive menus
  • Chapter selections
  • Digitally enhanced audio 5.1

Synopsis

The Bond
This short promotional film Charlie Chaplin made for the U.S. Liberty Loan bond campaign was shot in a few days during the shooting of Shoulder Arms. Using rather stark, expressionistic sets and props, it tells the story of the various types of bonds between people. The bond of friendship, shows Chaplin meeting friend Albert Austin who tells him jokes, borrows money, then invites him for a drink with the money he's borrowed. The bond of love is represented by Charlie and Edna, who are struck by cupid's arrows and soon enter into the bond of matrimony. But the "most important of all" is the Liberty Bond. Edna is Miss Liberty, threatened by the Kaiser who has subdued a soldier in uniform. Charlie is seen buying bonds from Uncle Sam who gives the money in turn to a worker, who gives guns to a soldier and sailor. Finally, Charlie KOs the Kaiser with a mallet inscribed "Liberty Bonds" and extorts the audience to help the cause. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi

The Pawnshop
Behind the Screen
In Behind the Screen, the seventh of his 12 Mutual Studios two-reelers, Charlie Chaplin pokes some less than gentle fun at his former employer Mack Sennett. Chaplin and Eric Campbell play a couple of bumbling stagehands at Gigantic Picture Studios. They knock each other about, break for lunch, and knock each about again. Pretty Edna Purviance sneaks into the studio disguised as a boy. Chaplin finds out her secret and steals a kiss -- drawing a very suspicious glance from Campbell. The film ends with a combination union strike and slapstick pie fight. Best bit: a temperamental movie comedian refuses to throw a pie without proper "motivation." Chaplin spent so much time achieving perfection in Behind the Screen that Mutual was obliged to apologize to its exhibitors for missing the scheduled release date by two weeks. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Bank
His Favorite Pastime
In Charles Chaplin's seventh film for the Keystone Company, the Little Fellow's favorite pastime is drinking and chasing women. The film opens in a saloon where Charlie is partaking of a free lunch and teasing a down-on-his-luck Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle who is trying to bum a drink. We see an early Chaplin "transposition" gag when Charlie tries to light a sausage, thinking it's a cigar. After leaving the bar, Charlie accosts beautiful but married Peggy Pierce (with whom Chaplin was involved romantically at the time) as she and her maid wait for her husband to return to their taxi. After being shooed away by the husband, Charlie returns to the saloon and gets into fights with various patrons. In the men's washroom after Charlie polishes his shoes with a towel, he hands the towel to a man who has soap in his eyes, causing him to blacken his face. Exiting the bar again, he follows the maid's taxi home and gets into a melee with the maid, the maid's employer and her employer's irate husband, who, with the aid of his household servants, ejects Charlie from their home. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi

A Day's Pleasure
Charlie Chaplin's fourth film for First National is generally considered a lightweight entry and a throwback to earlier days. It begins with Charlie, Edna and their two boys leaving their house (actually a corner of Chaplin's studio at La Brea and De Longpre in Hollywood) for a day's outing. The family piles into the family flivver, and after Charlie's amusing efforts to keep the engine running, they arrive at a dock and board a crowded day cruiser. Charlie has a disagreement with another passenger (Tom Wilson), when he squeezes himself into a place on the bench next to the fellow's hefty wife, (Babe London). When Wilson tosses the famous derby onto the dock, Charlie races off the boat to get it. As the vessel pulls away from the dock, a large woman with a baby carriage tries to board, but ends up stretched between the dock and the boat. Charlie, returning with his hat uses her as a gangplank, then tries to pull her aboard with a grappling hook. Once the boat is under way, the passengers dance to the music of a small combo, but soon everyone is feeling the effects of the violently rocking cruiser. Charlie has to stop dancing with the lovely Edna to sit by the railing near the trombonist, whose own mal de mer turns the black man quite pale. Meanwhile, Edna and the kids are napping on deck chairs and Charlie decides to join them. In typical Chaplinesque fashion, he cannot seem to assemble his chair. Overcome by seasickness he collapses into the lap of the equally bilious Babe and is covered with a blanket by a helpful steward. When the lady's jealous husband returns with drinks he tries to attack Charlie, but becomes too nauseated to continue, of which the now recovered Charlie takes advantage. The return trip in the family car is equally eventful. Charlie runs afoul of a couple of traffic cops, is blocked by some irate pedestrians, one of whose foul language spurs Charlie to indicate the divine retribution awaiting him, and backs into a tar truck which spills its contents on the street. The cops, berating Charlie for blocking traffic, get stuck in the tar along with Charlie, but he cleverly steps out of his large shoes and drives off with his family, much to the amusement of the onlookers. This last scene may have originally been intended to occur earlier in the film, according to continuity sheets existing in the Chaplin archives, but was placed at he end of the film for the released version. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi

A Woman
Charlie Chaplin's ninth film for Essanay contains his third and last female impersonation. It begins, as so many of Chaplin's early films do, in a park. Edna Purviance is seated on a park bench with her parents (Charles Insley and Marta Golden). Mother has fallen asleep and is snoring loudly, much to Edna's disgust. Bored, Edna herself soon falls asleep and Father, spotting a fetching lady (Margie Reiger), chases after her. Charlie appears wandering through the park and, after Father departs to buy sodas, joins Margie and flirts with her. When Father returns, he is enraged and hits Charlie on the head with one of the soda bottles, escorting Margie away. A couple of dandies out for a stroll, Leo White and Billy Armstrong, sit down next to Charlie and when he's caught taking a sip out of one of their sodas, they fight. Leo runs away and Billy is knocked unconscious. Meanwhile Father and Margie are playing hide-and-seek and Margie has taken the opportunity of a blindfolded Father to escape. Charlie comes upon him and leads him around by the neck with his cane until they reach the lake into which Charlie throws Father. Charlie wanders off to discover Edna and Mother, still asleep. Awakened, they become acquainted, inviting Charlie home for tea. Father meets Billy and invites him home for a drink. When they show up at home, Charlie is recognized and when a fight breaks out, Charlie runs upstairs to hide. Hiding in Edna's room, he dons her dress and hat. Edna, finding Charlie in the hall, falls down laughing at Charlie's female impersonation, but suggests he shave his mustache and don a pair of her shoes. When this is done, the illusion is perfect. So perfect that both Father and Billy are totally fooled and flirt outrageously with Charlie, much to Edna's amusement and Mother's anger. Both men ask for a kiss and Charlie suggests that they kiss opposite cheeks at the count of three. Of course Charlie steps back at "three" and the men kiss each other. This starts another fracas during which Billy is ejected from the house. Still enamored, Father accidentally pulls off Charlie's dress, revealing his true identity. Edna intervenes and begs forgiveness for Charlie, but Father gives him the boot and he ends up on the sidewalk beside Billy, to whom he delivers a knockout slap as the film ends. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi

The Vagabond
The Count
The Count, filmed during Charlie Chaplin's 1916-17 Mutual period, is a rowdy throwback to his Keystone days. Chaplin plays the assistant to bombastic clothes-presser Eric Campbell. While dallying with the cook at the Moneybags Mansion, Charlie spots Eric, posing as Count Broko. Eric tries to hide his subterfuge by introducing Charlie as his secretary. In this guise, Charlie is invited to a formal dinner dance presided over by lovely socialite Edna Purviance. When the real Count Broko (Leo White) shows up, chaos reigns supreme. The Count was the fifth of Chaplin's "golden dozen" Mutual two-reelers. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Knockout
Although better known as Charlie Chaplin's 17th appearance in a Keystone comedy, The Knockout is really a Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle film. The big event in Fatty's town is a prizefight in which champ Cyclone Flynn will meet all comers. Fatty is tricked into accepting the fight by two hobos who are making book on the fight. Through a note ostensibly from Flynn, they offer Fatty a split if he throws the fight, but Fatty, thinking one of the hobos is Flynn, refuses. The real Flynn arrives and dispatches the impostors. The match proceeds with heavy betting going on and Fatty's girlfriend dressed as a boy in order to gain entrance to the arena. Charlie is the referee who is constantly being knocked down by the fighters because he keeps getting in between them. Angered by losing after a short count, Fatty grabs two six-guns from a gambler at ringside and begins firing in all directions. Cyclone takes to his heels and a classic rooftop Keystone chase ensues, with the Keystone Kops in pursuit of Fatty, in pursuit of Cyclone. When the Kops lasso Fatty, he drags six of them along the ground by the rope until he leaps off a pier taking them all with him. With everyone treading water, the Kops surround Fatty as the film ends. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi

Caught in a Cabaret
Charlie Chaplin's 12th film for the Keystone company was also his directorial debut, receiving co-directing credit with co-star, Mabel Normand. Chaplin plays a waiter in a seedy cabaret who is always in trouble with his boss, Edgar Kennedy, and at odds with another waiter, Chester Conklin. While walking his dachshund in a park during his lunch break, he rescues rich-girl Mabel from the clutches of a thief who has chased away her boyfriend, Harry McCoy. Charlie introduces himself as O.T. Axle, Ambassador from Greece, (the first of Chaplin's "impersonation" roles) and is brought home to meet her parents and receive their thanks, much to the chagrin of Mabel's boyfriend. He receives an invitation to return later for a garden party. The suspicious boyfriend follows Charlie back to work and discovers the truth. Back at work Charlie deals with a bullying customer, Mack Swain, by serving him a drink and knocking him out with a large mallet when Swain tilts his head back to drink. Later, at the garden party, Charlie misbehaves, getting drunk, flirting with Mabel and singing loudly along with the band. The boyfriend, watching from a distance is now determined to expose him. When Charlie takes his leave to return to work, Harry suggests that the party go slumming to the very cabaret at which Charlie works. When the upper-class guests arrive, they are treated like royalty by the workers and other patrons. When Charlie discovers them at his table he hides the apron he's wearing and sits down next to Mabel, pretending that he's another guest. When the boss scolds him for sitting down on the job, Charlie is exposed as a lowly waiter, much to the shock of Mabel and her father. A melee then ensues between Charlie and his pistol-wielding Boss, whom Charlie knocks out while Mabel hides under a table. Charlie protests his love for Mabel, but she responds with a final knockout blow. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi

One A.M.
Charlie Chaplin's fourth film for Mutual is a tour de force solo performance, with Chaplin playing his classic drunk, returning home in the wee hours. The only other character in the film is the taxi driver who is oblivious to Charlie's difficulties getting out of the cab. Charlie has equal problems getting into his house. He can't find his key and enters via a window, but he soon finds his key in his vest pocket and exits via the window, reentering in the proper way, through the door. His house is filled with inanimate objects, which to his mind, are ganging up against him. The stuffed animals seem to attack him as he slides on throw rugs along the slippery floor and tries to reach a liquor bottle on a revolving table that keeps eluding him. When he attempts to climb the stairs, he is repeatedly struck by the oversized pendulum of a wall clock and sent tumbling down the staircase. Finally reaching his bedroom, his automatic Murphy bed seems to have a mind of its own, trapping him as it revolves round and round inside its wall compartment, bucking him like a bronco when he sits on it and falling on top of him when he lays on the floor. Finally abandoning the bedroom, Charlie goes to the bathroom, soaking himself as he tries to get a drink from the shower stall and then settling down for the night in the bathtub. Although essentially plotless, One A.M. is a brilliant clinic in physical comedy and the psychology of alcoholic delusions. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi

Sunnyside
The Tramp
The Tramp, Charlie Chaplin's sixth film for Essanay, is generally considered his first masterpiece. It is the first of his films that blended pathos with comedy and contains subtle pantomime along with the knockabout slapstick. Charlie is truly a tramp in this film, wandering down a dusty country road carrying his bindle. He is knocked down by near misses from two passing autos and pulls a whisk broom from his pocket and dusts himself off. He sits by a tree to eat his lunch, but it is stolen by a hobo (Leo White). Despondent, Charlie salts some grass and eats it. We next meet a farm girl (Edna Purviance) and her father (Fred Goodwins), who gives her some cash and sends her on an errand. She stops on her way to count her money and is robbed by a sinister hobo (Leo White). Her cries bring Charlie, who rescues her from the hobo and two other tramp thieves. The girl brings Charlie home to the farm, where he is rewarded with a job as a farmhand. He is inept at the job, the source of several funny scenes with a fellow farmhand (Paddy McGuire). The three thieving hoboes show up and try to involve Charlie in a scheme to rob the farmer's money. Charlie foils their efforts by hitting them on their heads with a mallet as they reach the top of the ladder that he has set up at his bedroom window. Farmer Fred, alerted by the noise, grabs his shotgun and chases off the crooks, but Charlie gets shot in the leg accidentally. This scene is played completely straight and is utterly convincing as Charlie passes out from the pain. Charlie is next seen recuperating from his injuries, lounging at an outdoor table with the farm girl and squirting seltzer into his drink. But his happiness is short-lived. Her boyfriend (Lloyd Bacon) arrives on the scene and Charlie, seeing that his love for her is unrequited, goes into the farmhouse and writes a note: "i thout your kindness was love but it ain't cause i seen him." He turns his back to the camera and picks up the girl's hat, kisses it, and walks outside. Bidding the two farewell, Charlie refuses the money offered by the boyfriend. The film closes with what would become Chaplin's classic ending -- Charlie walking sadly back along the road, but suddenly putting an optimistic little spring in his step as the camera irises in. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi

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