New York State Writers Institute - Classic Film Series

Chaplin's Essanay Comedies

Chaplin's Essanay Comedies

MAY 2, 2003 (Friday) at 7:30 p.m.
Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue
(Free and Open to the Public)

(American, 1915, 96 minutes, b&w, silent, video)
Live piano accompaniment provided by Mike Schiffer

Directed by Charlie Chaplin
Starring Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Fred Goodwins,
Billy Armstrong, Leo White

A JITNEY ELOPEMENT / THE TRAMP / BY THE SEA / WORK

Charlie Chaplin made sixteen shorts for Essanay Studios (1915-16). Chaplin had created his famous Tramp character a year earlier at Mack Sennett's Keystone Studios. At Essanay, Chaplin refined the Tramp into the lovable character that would become the best known figure of the Silent Era. Chaplin's work at Essanay Studios has been available for decades only in woefully bad prints. The videos to be shown at Page Hall have been restored and digitally remastered by film preservationist David Shepard and were released in 1999.

A JITNEY ELOPEMENT
chaplin_jitney_elopement.gif - 16123 Bytes
Charlie must rescue his sweetheart from an arranged marriage by posing as Count Chloride de Lime, the man to whom Edna is betrothed but whom she has never seen. Impersonation/mistaken identity was a device Chaplin enjoyed and returned to in other films.

THE TRAMP
chaplin_tramp2.gif - 15090 Bytes
Charlie saves a farmer's daughter from some thieving hobos, but soon learns that her heart belongs to another. This seminal Chaplin film is important for successfully integrating pathos with comedy. The film's sad ending is Chaplin's first film with his classic fade out of shuffling away alone with his back to the camera into the distance.
BY THE SEA
chaplin_by_the_sea.gif - 12923 Bytes
The second of two one-reel shorts Chaplin made for Essanay, the film was shot around Crystal Pier in Los Angeles in just one day. This extended improvisation includes Chaplin's first use of the flea routine, which he would develop further for his 1952 feature film, Limelight.

WORK
chaplin_work.gif - 19099 Bytes
The havoc created by incompetent laborers had always been an inspiration for slapstick. In this comedy, Chaplin plays a paper hanger's assistant hired to paper a midddle-class home where peace is replaced with anarchy, culminating with a massive explosion.

DCSIMG