Sunday, July 10, 2016

THE VAGABOND

Chaplin's third Mutual film was released 100 years ago today.

A classic Chaplin entrance showing only his familiar feet.
We get to see a lot of Chaplin's left-handed fiddle playing in this film.
Edna, the Gypsy Drudge
His crazed violin playing for Edna causes him to fall into the tub. A precursor to the final scene in Limelight.
An artist, played by Lloyd Bacon, takes an interest in Edna. Bacon went on to become a successful director.
Among his credits are the Busby Berkeley musicals 42nd Street and Footlight Parade.
"Goodby, little girl" or is it?

Chester Courtney, a fellow comedian with the Fred Karno troupe, who was employed by Chaplin at the time, recalled watching the final scene (above) being filmed: "Both Chaplin & Edna were in tears, and, as he took his last farewell, lifted his narrow, pathetic shoulders in a wistful gesture of resignation and sloped away towards the evening light, there was not a tearless eye among the 20 persons who watched spellbound."

The story goes that Chaplin filmed an alternate ending to The Vagabond in which Charlie attempts suicide by throwing himself into the river. He is rescued by a homely maiden (played by Phyllis Allen) but plunges back into the water after one look at her face. It is up for debate whether or not this footage exists, or ever existed. However, two contemporary trade magazines described this second ending: A pre-release blurb in the June 24, 1916 issue of Reel Life (a Mutual publicity magazine) and in an apparent review in the July 29, 1916 issue of the New York Clipper. Both describe Chaplin's suicide attempt being thwarted by a "buxom country maiden" (Phyllis Allen) who had befriended him.* Reel Life goes further and describes Allen's character as a farm woman whom Charlie has been flirting with in order to get such things as free eggs. That's why, when he attempts suicide, she jumps in to rescue him. There is a brief scene in the final film where Charlie gets some eggs from a farm woman but we don't see her face. Here is a screenshot:


Below is a real shot of Phyllis from behind (from The Rounders).


I don't think the farm woman is Phyllis because her hair is lighter and she just seems smaller to me. But I could be wrong. Nevertheless, Phyllis does appear in the movie at the end (at least I think it's her). She is the other woman (below, second from left) who arrives in the car with Charlotte Mineau. I haven't watched the Mutuals in a while but I don't recall seeing Phyllis in any of the other films so it's interesting that Chaplin cast her in this one.



Sources:
The Chaplin Archive, ed. by Paul Duncan
Chaplin's Vintage Year by Michael Hayde
Chaplin: His Life & Art by David Robinson
www.nitrateville.com

2 comments:

  1. Does the Reel Life blurb mention Allen by name? I agree with you that Allen is not the farm girl, neither do I think she's the other woman with Mineau.

    P{hil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't have the REEL LIFE article but according to a discussion on Nitrateville it does mention her by name. I think the woman at the end really resembles her but I've been wrong before.

      http://nitrateville.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=9025&start=30

      Delete