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Charlie Chaplin, Vol. 4 [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

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

Synopsis

A Night Out
In his second Essanay comedy Charlie Chaplin is teamed with cross-eyed comic Ben Turpin as two drunks on a spree. It is noteworthy as his first film with Edna Purviance, who was to be his love interest in films for the next eight years, and in real life for the next three. It combines elements from at least three Keystones, Mabel's Strange Predicament, The Rounders and Caught in the Rain, but uses a number of comic transpositions of the type that were to become Chaplin's hallmark. Charlie and Ben carouse to a saloon and a restaurant, incurring the wrath of a French boulevardier and a restaurant manager. Ejected from the restaurant, they return to their hotel room where they meet Edna, whose room is across the hall. Charlie flirts with Edna until her husband, the restaurant manager, returns and chases him away. Charlie and Ben then have a fight, and Charlie packs and leaves the hotel, checking into another one nearby. Edna and hubby decide they don't like the hotel either and move into Charlie's. Charlie undresses for bed in his room while Edna, across the hall, plays fetch with her dog. When she throws her slipper into the hallway, the dog takes it into Charlie's room and under his bed. Chasing the dog, Edna hides under Charlie's bed when he re-enters the room from the bathroom. He escorts her back to her room but is caught there by the irate husband. When hubby draws a pistol, Charlie escapes through the window but makes his way back into the hotel. He encounters Ben who has come looking for Charlie's share of the rent on their former room, and a fight ensues in which Charlie ends up floundering in the bathtub. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi

Cure
His New Job
Charlie Chaplin began his new job at Essanay Studios, who lured him away from Keystone with an offer of $1250 a week plus a bonus of $10,000, with a parody film on his former employer. It features two actresses at the beginning of their careers in minor roles -- Gloria Swanson and Agnes Ayres. Charlie applies for work at the Lockstone Motion Picture Company. Arriving at the office just after him is cross-eyed comedian Ben Turpin. Charlie is interviewed by the boss who uses a funnel and long tube as a hearing aid. Charlie uses the device with a cigarette in his mouth which gets lodged in the funnel. Charlie tries to dislodge it by pouring ink into the funnel and blowing but ends up with the ink on his own face. Hired as an assistant carpenter/prop man, he disrupts rehearsals and gets into trouble with the director. He is told to don an extra's military costume for the Russian melodrama being filmed, but he goes instead into the star's dressing room and steals his costume. Charlie is as inept as an actor as he is a carpenter, sitting on the train of the leading lady's gown, tearing it off as she walks up a staircase and blowing his nose in it as he overacts tearfully. (This scene contains one of the first dolly shots in Chaplin films). He later topples a large column which lands on top of him, and he is sat upon by Turpin, who, having replaced him as prop man is called to lift the column. Eventually, the star actor arrives, and, enraged at finding his costume missing, starts a melee on stage which ends with everyone but Charlie unconscious. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi

Police
Charlie Chaplin's last film for Essanay (not counting the compilation, Triple Trouble) was released after he had moved on to the Mutual Film Corporation. Charlie is released from prison with the customary few dollars in his pocket. He's approached on the street by a fake preacher who asks Charlie to "Let me help you go straight," making him sob with his touching sermon, while picking his pocket. Charlie encounters a drunk with his pocketwatch hanging from his vest, but resists the temptation of stealing it. A few moments later, after realizing he has been robbed, Charlie sees the preacher with the drunk and notes, after the preacher departs, that the watch is gone. Approached by a real preacher this time, Charlie chases him down the street. As evening approaches Charlie goes to a seedy flophouse, but is ejected because he cannot pay. He encounters an old cellmate on the street and is recruited to participate in the robbery of Edna's house. Charlie proves an inept burglar, making so much noise that Edna is roused, and she calls the police before confronting them. She begs them not to go upstairs because her mother is very ill and the shock might kill her. She even provides food and beer for the burglars, asking Charlie to let her help him to go straight. But Charlie's partner is heartless and heads upstairs despite Edna's pleas. When Edna tries to stop him, he threatens to strike her and that is too much for Charlie, who fights with the thief until the police arrive. Firing his pistol, the thief escapes through a back window, but the cops catch Charlie before he can escape. Edna, grateful to Charlie for his protection, lies to the police telling them Charlie is her husband. After the cops leave, Edna gives Charlie a coin and sends him off. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi

The Floorwalker
Charlie Chaplin launched his 670,000-dollar contract with the Mutual Film Corporation with the hilarious The Floorwalker. The film's chief comedic device, the store escalator, was inspired by Chaplin's visit to New York, where, at an elevated train station, he saw a minor accident involving one. The manager of the store receives a letter -- his superiors are coming to investigate him. He's been skimming money from the store, in cahoots with the bossy and mean floorwalker who bears a striking resemblance to Charlie. The pair decide they're going to take off with the cash and begin emptying the safe in the office upstairs. Meanwhile, Charlie comes wandering into the store, trying out everything but buying nothing. The store seems to be infested with shoplifters and store detectives. Charlie gets caught by one of the latter when he tries to buy a display rack. He escapes upstairs where he encounters his doppelganger who has just knocked out the manager and is escaping with a suitcase full of money. The lookalikes do the classic mirror routine, copied later by the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup. They agree to exchange clothes and identities, but the real floorwalker is arrested as the Tramp, leaving behind the satchel full of loot. Charlie takes over the floorwalker's duties, getting involved with various customers, especially the ladies in the shoe department. When Charlie finds the case, he's ecstatic, until Eric Campbell awakens and, mistaking him for his crooked partner, begins a merry chase up and down the escalator and all around the store, hampered only by the ever-vigilant store detectives. The real floorwalker returns in custody and comes clean, implicating the manager. The chase continues until Charlie is caught in the elevator by a detective as it descends upon the head of Campbell who is also apprehended. ~ Phil Posner, Rovi

The Immigrant
Charles Chaplin's next-to-last Mutual Studios 2-reeler is as funny as his other 11 Mutual entries, though there's a stronger inner lining of poignancy. En route by boat from an unnamed country, immigrant Chaplin tries to make the best of the nausea-inducing rough seas. He then befriends fellow emigree Edna Purviance and her ailing mother. Months pass: Chaplin meets Purviance in a restaurant. Quickly ascertaining that her mother has died, Chaplin appoints himself Purviance's protector. He even promises to pay for the meal; after all, he's just found a silver dollar on the street. But when the dollar lands on the ground with a leadlike thud, Chaplin realizes he's as broke as ever--and now he's at the mercy of blood-in-his-eye headwaiter Eric Campbell. But fortune smiles on Chaplin and Purviance when a famous artist decides to hire the girl as his model. Chaplin negotiates an excellent contract for his bride-to-be, and everything comes up roses. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

A Night in the Show
A Night at the Show is the most elaborate two-reeler directed by Charlie Chaplin during his 1915-1916 stay at Essanay studios. Based on "A Night in an English Music Hall," the Fred Karno-produced ensemble sketch which brought Chaplin to the U.S. in 1910, the film is set in a crowded theater, where a series of mediocre variety acts try to entertain the audience. Chaplin plays two roles: a slick-haired dandy in the orchestra seats, who flirts with the female performers at every possible opportunity, and "Mr. Rowdy," a walrus-mustached drunkard who heckles the actors from the balcony. The film comes to an abrupt end when Mr. Rowdy gets hold of a fire hose and douses everyone in sight. A Night at the Show is usually released on video in tandem with several other Essanay Chaplin films, notably The Bank and Shanghaied. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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