Monday, October 3, 2016

THE PAWNSHOP, released October 2nd, 1916

Missed the 100th anniversary yesterday.

This film marked Henry Bergman's debut with Chaplin--an association
that would last for the next 30 years. 

There is a suspenseful moment when Chaplin teeters back and forth on a 10-foot ladder, and then falls and hits the ground in a graceful back somersault. "The audience clearly sees him take the fall," notes Dan Kamin. "There are no stunt doubles, nor does the street upon which he tumbles have pads to cushion his fall."1

Edna's dough becomes a lei (among other things) and her wooden spoon a ukulele. 

After destroying Albert Austin's clock, Chaplin bops him with a hammer, then reveals to the camera that the hammer is made of rubber.

Charlie wreaks havoc when his head gets caught in a double bass. 
Chester Courtney, an old music hall acquaintance who had been given a job at the studio, 
recalled that: "During the filming of The Pawnbroker [sic] he held up the schedule for two weeks while he learned to play all the instruments that his prop man, Scotty Cleethorpes, had provided as dressing for the shop scene, in which they figured as pledged goods. When the end of the fortnight came he gave us an impromptu concert at which he played one tune on each instrument!"2

Eric Campbell plays a thief who tries to rob the place at gunpoint.

But Charlie saves the day (and bows to his audience).
According to Motion Picture Classic (Nov. 1916), Eric "spoiled the scene twice
by rolling outside the lines but Charlie finally whacked him on the camera-
side of his head, with the command to 'die higher up,' and this time
Campbell recorded his swan-song on the film."

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1 Kamin, Charlie Chaplin: Artistry In Motion, 2008
2 Chester Courtney, "The Real Charles Chaplin" Film Weekly, Feb. 1931, reprinted in CC: Centennial Celebration, 1989.

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