- SKU: 18780235
- Release Date: 06/01/1999
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Notable as Charlie Chaplin's first female impersonation film, the half-reel A Busy Day is another of the Keystone shorts in which a film crew was dispatched to improvise a comedy at the site of a public event, in this case a parade celebrating the opening of a new harbor in San Pedro, California. Chaplin plays a shrewish wife, attending the event with her philandering husband, Mack Swain. Mack takes up with a young woman at the parade and his wife follows him around trying to catch them in the act. In the process, "she" gets involved with a film crew trying to record the event, getting in the way of the camera as Chaplin's Tramp had done in the earlier Kid Auto Races. In this case, the director who manhandles the obstreperous wife is Keystone boss Mack Sennett. The jealous wife also engages in some humorous dancing as she listens to the band play and tussles with a cop who earlier had tried to get her away from the movie camera. Eventually she catches up to Mack and his paramour, and when she confronts and attacks them, she is thrown off a pier into the ocean ~ Phil Posner, Rovi
Cruel, Cruel Love
In his eighth film for Keystone Charlie Chaplin, in frock coat and bushy mustache, is cast in the role of a melodramatic lover who attempts suicide over his lost love. The film is a farce, a parody of the overacted melodramas of the day. Mr. Dovey (Chaplin) is first seen on his knees proposing in the drawing room of his lady (Minta Durfee). The couple are overheard and mocked by the lady's maid, whose laughter causes Minta to eject her from the house. To get back at her boss, she arranges a hoax with the gardener. She feigns injury and her cries bring the departing Dovey to her aid. When Minta sees her maid flirting with Dovey, she rejects him in a jealous rage. Back at home the despondent Dovey drinks what he thinks is poison; only his highly amused butler knows it was just water. Waiting for the poison to take effect, Dovey has horrifying visions of his eternal damnation. Meanwhile, Minta has learned of her maid's deception and has sent the gardener to Dovey with a letter of apology. "It's too late. I've been poisoned," says Dovey and the gardener goes back to retrieve Minta to be at her dying man's side. Dovey now summons doctors to save him, drinking all the milk he can with evident distaste. When the physicians arrive, the butler lets them in on the joke and they play along too, jokingly examining him. Minta, having raced to her man's home, learns of the hoax and tells Dovey he's going to live. First relieved, then enraged, he attacks all the pranksters and finally embraces his lady, removing from his fingers a ball of hair he had pulled from his head and blowing it away. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi
For this half-reel quickie, Charlie Chaplin's 23rd Keystone comedy, Chaplin took cast and crew back to Westlake Park, scene of so many of the Keystones, and shot it in a day. While a sleeping sailor and his bored girlfriend occupy a park bench, the little Tramp is contemplating suicide on a nearby bridge. Leaving her boring beau, the girl passes Charlie and inspires in him a new will to live. He follows her to another bench and, shyly at first, begins a flirtation. The sailor wakes and, finding them together, chases Charlie away with a hard slap. Charlie, from behind a tree begins a brick-throwing match in which inevitably, two Kops become involved. One comes up behind Charlie as he's about to throw another brick and Charlie (in a bit of business which anticipates a bit he gave to Jackie Coogan in his 1921 classic, The Kid) dusts off the brick, tosses it idly, and throws it over his shoulder. Eventually the Kops catch up with the sailor and he successfully fights them off, getting them embroiled with each other. Meanwhile the Girl has escaped to the lake side and is joined by Charlie. When the sailor and Kops arrive, all five end up treading water in Echo Lake. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi
Charlie Chaplin's 24th short for the Keystone company is a film about making films at Keystone. It is unusual in that we see Chaplin the actor, Charlie the Tramp, and Chaplin's second female impersonation in a film. The film opens outside the Keystone Studio where Chaplin, in street clothes, is talking to Mabel Normand and a reporter, who is writing on a pad. Charlie Murray emerges and grabs Chaplin by the ear and drags him inside -- it's time for work. Murray leaves Chaplin at the dressing room where Fatty Arbuckle is also preparing for work. Chaplin begins by brushing off his Tramp pants. Seated at a dressing table across from Arbuckle he hears Fatty open a beer bottle and tries to sneak a swig, but Fatty substitutes his hair tonic instead. Meanwhile, on the stage, Murray is rehearsing a melodramatic scene with two actors. Chaplin is now in costume as the Tramp. On the set, Charlie misses his entrance because he is flirting with two lovely actresses, and he messes up the scene. He is replaced by fellow actor Chester Conklin, but interferes with Chester's entrance and is chased out of the studios. The next day a "Beautiful Stranger" appears -- it's Charlie in drag, and his female impersonation is perfect. He immediately attracts the attentions of every male in the company, especially director Murray. Murray tries to make time with the stranger and hires her to act in films. He gives her the men's dressing room, amid the objections of all the actors. While Murray's back is turned, Charlie lets us in on the gag by winking at the camera and later takes a very unladylike drag on Murray's cigarette. Alone, Charlie removes his disguise, and resumes his Tramp outfit. When the director comes looking for his new actress, he finds Charlie and discovers his deception. He chases Charlie through the various film sets until Charlie jumps into what he thinks is a prop well. It turns out to be a real one, and the film closes as Murray and the actors mock Charlie as he struggles, sinking, at the bottom of the well. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi
Mabel's Strange Predicament
In his fourth film for Keystone, Charlie Chaplin was assigned for the last time to Henry Lehrman, his first director at Keystone. It was Chaplin's first film with the ostensible star of the film, Ford Sterling, who had announced that he would be leaving Keystone for a more lucrative deal well before Chaplin joined Keystone. Between Showers is the first Chaplin film shot partially at Westlake Park. It shows a few developments of his Tramp character, mostly little bits of "business" that would recur in later films. Sterling plays a womanizer who steals an umbrella from a cop and his girlfriend. He encounters a pretty girl, Emma Clifton, on a street corner who is impeded from crossing the street by a huge puddle. Sterling gives his new umbrella to the girl to hold and goes off to find a piece of lumber for a makeshift bridge. Chaplin, dresses as the Tramp but without the cane, saunters on the scene, and also offers his help. While they're gone, another cop carries the girl over the puddle. Sterling returns and when he asks for his umbrella back, the girl refuses. Sterling attacks her and Chaplin comes to her rescue, although she seems capable of handling both men. A fight sequence through the park ensues, after which Chaplin restores the umbrella to Clifton. It climaxes when Chester Conklin the cop, summoned by Sterling, recognizes the umbrella as his own. Chaplin admits to taking it from Sterling, but Sterling has no alibi and an amused Chaplin watches Conklin haul him off to jail. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi
By the Sea
Charlie Chaplin's last one-reeler (with the exception of The Bond), is an impromptu film shot on the beach at Crystal Pier in Los Angeles, his first film shot there since leaving Keystone. It is superior to similarly made Keystone's in that the timing and gag ideas are much better realized. The film opens with couple Billy Armstrong and Margie Reiger at the beach on a windy day. Margie goes off, telling Billy to stay put. Charlie comes walking down a seaside street eating a banana and, after tossing the peel away, he slips on it. He encounters Billy when both men's hats, attached to them by elastic, get blown off and entangled. This causes a fight between them in which Charlie gets Billy in a headlock and knocks him unconscious, but fleas from Billy's head jump onto Charlie's arms, at which point Charlie performs a precursor of the flea circus routine that is featured in Limelight and the never released The Professor. Just then Edna Purviance passes by and Charlie flirts with her. She is amused by his antics despite herself. She goes off and sits down by her boyfriend, Bud Jamison, who has been waiting for her on a nearby bench. Charlie and Billy make up, and Billy offers to buy them refreshments at a nearby ice cream stand operated by Snub Pollard. They again begin to fight as Billy refuses to pay. During the fight Bud gets hit by flying ice cream and joins the fray. The fight is broken up by a cop, who drags Billy off. Escaping, Charlie sits down next to Edna, bouncing her up and down by sitting down heavily. He's chased off by the returning Bud and joins Margie (who has been looking for Billy) on another bench until all the others arrive, whereupon Charlie tips over the bench and makes his getaway. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi