Showing posts with label Easy Street. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Easy Street. Show all posts

Friday, May 13, 2016

Accidents will happen...

During the filming of The Great Dictator (1940)

While filming one of the ghetto scenes with Paulette, Chaplin's left hand was caught in a slamming gate, breaking his middle finger.

"Leading lady (and Mrs. Chaplin) Paulette Goddard quickly called a car and rushed Chaplin to Hollywood Hospital, where they found themselves completely ignored by the hospital doctors & staff. After an interminable wait, Goddard approached a doctor and said that Mr. Chaplin's case needed immediate attention. The doctor looked more closely at Chaplin and his finger, then immediately apologized, stating, according to the original press book of The Great Dictator, 'When I saw you both coming in in makeup, I thought it was a couple of Hollywood jokers having a little fun at our expense.'" (Hooman Mehran, "Second Thoughts On The Great Dictator,Chaplin: The Dictator & The Tramp, BFI, 2004)

Watching the film closely, you can see Chaplin favoring his finger in certain scenes, including the one right before the gate closes, which suggests that he reshot this scene after the accident.

You can clearly see a bandage on Charlie's finger in the coin-eating scene.

And at the October 1939 funeral of Ford Sterling.

L-R: Harold Lloyd, Mack Sennett, Barney Oldfield, CC, Douglas Fairbanks, Donald Crisp and Charlie Murray.

During the filming of Easy Street (1917).

In the scene where Charlie pulls the lamppost down on the bully (Eric Campbell), the lamp's sharp metal edge cut across the bridge of his nose requiring stitches. The injury contributed to a delay in the release of the film.

During the filming of The Circus (1928).

Chaplin told journalist Egon Kisch in 1929 that he was scratched so badly by the monkeys while filming the tightrope scene that he had to be under a doctor's care for six weeks. Kisch noted that Chaplin had "two clearly visible wounds." (Egon Erwin Kisch, "I Work With Charlie Chaplin," 1929)

During the filming of The Idle Class (1921).

In his autobiography, Charlie mentions a "slight accident" with a blowtorch while filming the scene below. "The heat of it went through my asbestos pants, so we added another layer of asbestos." (My Autobiography, 1964)

Naturally, the press took this story and ran with it.

Capital Times, May 11, 1921

The "studio hospital"? Must have been next to the Chaplin Studio restaurant.
Adding that Edna "helped smother the flames" was a nice touch at the end.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Chaplin's ninth film for Mutual was released February 5th, 1917. The release of the film was delayed for two weeks due to rain, as well as an accident in which Chaplin received several stitches. More about this below.

Plot: Reformed Charlie becomes a policeman and his beat is Easy Street, the toughest street in town.

The film opens with Charlie asleep on the ground outside of the Hope Mission.
According to the Washington Times (Feb. 11, 1917), during the filming of this scene the baby, attracted to Chaplin's mustache, suddenly reached up and tore it off his lip ("and also part of said lip.") In order to go on with filming, Chaplin had to return to his dressing room to apply a replacement. Meanwhile, "the baby held tightly to its new possession and even went to the extent of insisting in a way all its own to taking it home. Here its mother finally secured it and she realized it was a souvenir well worth keeping. That evening she recounted the experience to her husband and showed him the prize." To make a long story short, the "prize" ended up being auctioned off at a charity bazaar for $110.

Charlie is enamored with Edna, the mission's organist.

"Chaplin at first proposed to take the part of the missionary in order that his affair with the beautiful Edna might have a better chance to fructify, but decided that it would be undignified for a clergyman to descend from the pulpit and beat up the irascible [Eric] Campbell." (Reel Life, 1917)
Crew member Dave Allen recalled that "when Charlie wanted anything, he'd yell for it, and the person nearest it would grab it and give it to him. When Charlie started yelling 'Truncheon! Truncheon!' I thought he was calling 'Luncheon' and sent the extras off to eat--it seems in London the cops call a nightstick a truncheon." When Chaplin heard of the mistake, he burst into laughter. (Harry Crocker manuscript via Charlie Chaplin Archives, Taschen 2015)
Filming was delayed when Chaplin injured himself while filming this scene with Eric Campbell: "I pulled a lamp post over on myself,” he explained. “It was necessary to take several stitches and I lost a good deal of blood--I didn’t know I had so much blood. We kept the scene, too. It makes one of those serious little touches, you know.” (The Day Book, Feb. 9, 1917)
Regarding this scene, Chaplin told Sergei Eisenstein in 1930: "You remember the scene in Easy Street where I scatter food from a box to poor children as if they were chickens? You see, I did this because I despise them. I don't like children." (Eisenstein, Notes Of A Film Director, 1959) 
Charlie accidently sits on a hypodermic needle which gives him the superhuman strength to beat up the Easy Street bullies. 
...and save the day.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky & company visit Chaplin during the filming of EASY STREET, 1917

Nijinsky is next to Chaplin (with his arm around him). Other familiar faces include: Eric Campbell (behind and to the left of Nijinsky), Edna Purviance (center, front), and John Rand (far left). The photo is inscribed to R.G. Herndon who was the manager of the Ballet Russes. 

Chaplin described Nijinsky as "a serious man, beautiful looking, with high cheekbones and sad eyes, who gave the impression of a monk in civilian clothes....I have seen few geniuses in the world, and Nijinsky was one of them."

Nijinsky watched Chaplin at work for two days.* He never laughed but sat behind the camera "looking sadder and sadder." "Nevertheless," Chaplin wrote, "at the end of each day he would compliment me. 'Your comedy is balletique, you are a dancer,' he said."

Chaplin paid homage to Nijinsky's legendary performance of L'Apres-midi d'un Faune during his dance with the wood nymphs in Sunnyside (1919).

*In My Autobiography, Chaplin remembered incorrectly that Nijinsky watched while he was filming The Cure.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


This was Chaplin's ninth film for Mutual and is another of my personal favorites.

The T-shaped set for Easy Street is a throwback to the streets of Chaplin’s childhood, as well as the run-down buildings with the small doorways.  You will see the T-shaped street and small doorways again in The Kid.  The title Easy Street also suggests “East Street” the street of Chaplin’s birthplace.

The film includes plenty of social commentary:  poverty, drugs, starvation and urban violence—all themes that will pop up again in later films.

One of the few times Charlie ever injured himself while making a movie was during the filming of Easy Street. When he pulled the lamp post down on the bully (Eric Campbell) the lamp’s sharp metal edge cut him across the bridge of his nose requiring stitches. This injury contributed to a delay in the release of the film.

In a 1917 issue of Reel Life, Charlie published his reflections on the film:
If there is one human type more than any other that the whole wide world has it in for, it is the policeman type. Of course, the policeman isn’t really to blame for the public prejudice against his uniform--it’s just the natural human revulsion against any sort of authority--but just the same everybody loves to see the 'copper' get it where the chicken got the axe.
So, to begin with, I make myself solid by letting my friends understand that I am not a real policeman except in the sense that I've been put on for a special job--that of manhandling a big bully. Of course I have my work cut out tackling a contract like that and the sympathy of the audience is with me, but I have also the element of suspense which is invaluable in a motion picture plot. The natural supposition is that the policeman is going to get the worst of it and there is an intense interest in how I am to come out of my apparently unequal combat with 'Bully' Campbell. 
There is further contrast between my comedy walk and general funny business and the popular conception of dignity that is supposed to hedge a uniformed police officer."

Friday, July 20, 2012

Easy Street (1917).
One of my favorite Chaplin films and, arguably, one of the best films he ever made.