Sunday, August 7, 2016

ONE A.M., released 100 years ago today

"Charlie Chaplin said that if any man could appear absolutely alone and hold attention for two full reels, he believed he could do it," wrote Alexia Durant of Photoplayer's Weekly.1 And that's exactly what Chaplin accomplished in his fourth release for the Mutual Film Corporation. Except for a brief appearance at the beginning by Albert Austin, the film is a complete solo performance.


Chaplin plays a wealthy drunk who arrives home in the wee hours and tries to go to bed. "One A.M. was unusual for me," he later wrote, "it was a solo act which took place in a very restricted space: an exercise in mime and technical virtuosity, with no plot or secondary characters. I arrive home drunk early one morning to find everything in the house against me."2


It was an experiment he never repeated. Not only was the film the least popular of the Mutuals but Chaplin himself never thought too highly of it. According to biographer Theodore Huff, he was said to have summed up One A.M. with the remark: “One more film like that and it will be goodbye Charlie.” 



1July 15, 1916
2Chaplin, My Life In Pictures, 1974

6 comments:

  1. I loved this flick. The creativity of using props was impressive.
    I like how the design of the house - ie: the upstair's bedrooms that somehow exist...
    I noticed the carpet on the stairs is super padded and bouncy for his falls....
    I thought I saw Albert trying to suppress a laugh under his ginormous mustache
    And I always interpreted the "goodbye Charlie" quote as meaning that it was such a physically exhausting and maybe painful skit that it would kill him to do another solo act.
    Anyhoo, he is especially cute in it - so young, thin and cute Charlot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The "goodbye Charlie" quote has often been interpreted by fans and scholars alike as meaning that the film was too physically exhausting to ever repeat, but I don't think Chaplin was ever bothered by the physical toll of his filmmaking. He was more affected by whether or not a film was a success.

      Delete
  2. Funny how little he knew about himself. ONE AM is an amazing piece of filmmaking from beginning to end. I don't know of anybody who doesn't love it as much as I do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like One AM, but it's not a favorite. A couple of reasons for its unpopularity is that audiences preferred to see Charlie in his Tramp costume and they also liked seeing him with Edna.

      Delete
    2. I like One AM, but it's not a favorite. A couple of reasons for its unpopularity is that audiences preferred to see Charlie in his Tramp costume and they also liked seeing him with Edna.

      Delete
  3. I always like One AM. It's different. Don't know if he should have done it all the time, but...
    The Dada-esque clock was brilliant, I thought.

    Tom K

    ReplyDelete