Monday, April 21, 2014

TWENTY MINUTES OF LOVE, released April 20th, 1914

I meant to post this yesterday but the day got away from me.

Charlie mocks the couple making out on the bench by hugging & kissing a tree.
Charlie steals the watch from the pickpocket (Chester Conklin) who had just stolen it from someone else. 

There is some debate as to whether this film was Chaplin's directorial debut. Existing Keystone documents list Joseph Maddern as the sole director. In his autobiography, Chaplin cites Caught In The Rain, released two weeks later, as the first film he directed. However, in a letter to his brother, Sydney, from August 1914, Charlie lists the films in which he had appeared marking six of them as "my own" with Twenty Minutes Of Love being the first (below). We don't know what Chaplin may have meant by "my own" but it's possible that he was referring to the storyline. In Chaplin's 1924 article "Does the Public Know What It Wants," he describes how during his early days at Keystone he was called upon to make a short comedy. "When I reached the studio of the old Keystone Company I was told by the director that a short comedy was needed, and needed that day. I was promised that if I could turn out the sort of picture that was wanted I would receive an extra twenty-five dollars. I had no story, I hadn't even an idea, and I had no actors,  but I wanted that twenty-five." Chaplin goes on to describe rounding up the actors and coming up with the story.* "The resultant picture," Chaplin wrote, "was called Twenty Minutes Of Love." It is also suggestive that Chaplin remembered in his autobiography that the song "Too Much Mustard" inspired the action of the film. In the end, it's likely that Maddern may have directed the film but served as more of a watch dog, making sure the film was completed on time and on budget, while Chaplin created the scenario and gags.

From Chaplin: His Life & Art by David Robinson

* Chaplin goes on to describe a scene that doesn't appear in the finished film: "The character that I play in all my films was to be on a bridge, standing on the rail about to jump. A pretty girl passes by, and the would-be suicide changes his mind." (Chaplin, "Does The Public Know What It Wants" Adelphi, January 1924, reprinted in Peter Haining, The Legend of Charlie Chaplin.)

4 comments:

  1. That bridge scene he describes musty be the one in Recreation.

    Phil

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  2. I wouldn't be surprised if this was done under supervision. According to "My Life In Pictures" most of Charlie's Keystone comedies were done under supervision.

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  3. The bridge scene mentioned is interesting. I have been reading here and there in My Autobiography which was published mid 60s. Charlie goes into brief accounts of all the clowns who committed suicide. Most of those mentioned he had admired or met when much younger. A couple of the recounts state that the suicides were sort of an off hand decision where the deceased had been going about his normal day and just decided to Do It......in one incidence leaving his wife in the carriage curbside while he ran in to retrieve something. The performance artists did not reappear down to the street and the wife went up to see that he had nearly cut his own head off with a straight razor and was laying in massive blood on the bathroom floor.
    How fickle this impulse to self destruct must have seemed to Charlie. His main characters in Limelight and City Lights had felt the call and his own character had to talk them out of it.

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