Chaplin's Essanay Comedies
MAY 2, 2003 (Friday) at 7:30 p.m.
(American, 1915, 96 minutes, b&w, silent, video)
|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|
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.
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|
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.
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.