Sunday, June 18, 2017

THE IMMIGRANT, released 100 years ago today

The release date for The Immigrant is often given as June 17th, 1917 but trade publications & newspapers from the era say the 18th. Michael Hayde's recent book on the Mutuals, Chaplin's Vintage Year, also says the 18th, so that's the date I'm going with.

This was Chaplin's second to last film for the Mutual Film Corporation. The day before its release, he signed his first million-dollar contract with First National.

The rocking of the boat for the opening scenes was achieved by attaching a pendulum to the tripod head of the camera.

There is a very similar scene between Bugs Bunny and Christopher Columbus in the 1951 cartoon Hare We Go.
  Chaplin built the dining hall set on rockers so it would tilt back and forth.
These boat rocking tricks had previously been used in Shanghaied (1915)

Charlie sees Edna for the first time when she enters the dining room.

The gun-through-the-leg gag was recycled from The New Janitor (1914).

The immigrants see the Statue Of Liberty for the first time.

The part of the waiter was originally played by Henry Bergman but Chaplin didn't feel he was menacing enough so he replaced him with Eric Campbell and his diabolic eyebrows. 

The story goes that Chaplin did so many takes of Edna eating beans that she became ill.
According to Grace Kingsley, Edna told him: "It’s no use Charlie. I simply can’t swallow another one.'
‘Great Scott!’ retorted Charlie, ‘how am I going to get my gagging over, then?’
‘I give it up,’ replied Edna. ‘If you’d been gagging as much as I have for the past five hours you wouldn’t want to gag any more!’" (L.A. Times, May 20th, 1917)

Chaplin wrote in My Life In Pictures (1974):
"The Immigrant touched me more than any film I've made. I thought the ending had quite a poetic feeling"


  1. The Immigrant holds a very special place in my heart because this is the film that I fell in love with Charlie Chaplin!

    1. It's a good one. Our first CC films are always special. Mine was "The Kid."

    2. The Kid? Really? That's interesting. You should ask that on your site here. Mine was Modern Times. I knew of CC (when I was a little boy, I saw him get the Oscar in 1972, and yes, the applause went on forever). But in college I saw Modern Times, and when the roller skating scene started, I was hooked, I was transported. I sat up in my chair and said, my goodness. Don't know why it was that scene, but it did the trick. Later, another college teacher had a lecture series on Verdoux, which I'll tell you about later. But it was Modern Times that started it all. I even called my band The Modern Times.

      Tom K