Showing posts with label Essanay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Essanay. Show all posts

Friday, May 27, 2016

POLICE, released May 27, 1916

This was Chaplin's final film for Essanay (or the last one he personally supervised) and was released after Chaplin had already joined the Mutual Film Corporation.

There's also some mystery behind the film. Some scenes for Police had originally been intended for a never-made feature-length film called Life and discarded footage from one or both were used to make Triple Trouble. Then there are those who believe that Life (the film) never existed and was an Essanay publicity stunt. Nevertheless, Police, to me, was one of Chaplin's best films to date.

(These screenshots are from the old Image "Short Comedy Classics" set. I haven't yet purchased the new Flicker Alley Essanays.)

Friday, December 18, 2015


Carmen was originally intended to be released as a two-reel film on December 18th, 1915 but was held by Essanay until Chaplin left the company. In April 1916, an expanded four-reel version of the film was released, created with Chaplin's discarded footage and padded out with new scenes, shot and assembled by Leo White & featuring Ben Turpin. Chaplin claimed in his autobiography that this altered version of the film disgusted him so much that it sent him to bed for two days. He attempted to sue Essanay for damages but lost the case. He later wrote that Essanay’s dishonest act “rendered a service, for thereafter I had it stipulated in every contract that there should be no mutilating, extending or interfering with my finished work.”

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A WOMAN, released 100 years ago today

This was Chaplin's tenth film for Essanay and the third film in which he donned women's clothing (the other two were A Busy Day & The Masquerader at Keystone.)  This was arguably his best female impersonation. The ending also features one of the rare occasions in Charlie's silent films where we see him (as a man) without his mustache.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Work, released June 21, 1915

“Most of the fun in Work, one of my very latest releases, comes through the efforts of a painter’s assistant to push a two-wheeled barrow loaded with materials. This idea came to me from a scene I witnessed, one that was not funny for the assistant, but very laughable for the bystanders. The man was trying to get up a hill, and the weight of the barrow kept pulling him up in the air, and letting him down again, until finally he was carried up in a half circle over his barrow wheel and the contents were spilled. I enlarged the idea, and the audiences shout with amusement.”
—From “How I Made My Success” by Charlie Chaplin, The Theater (September, 1915).

Saturday, April 11, 2015

THE TRAMP, released April 11th, 1915

This was the first film to incorporate the "iris out" ending with the tramp walking down the road away from the camera.

My mother-in-law, Frances, was born the same day The Tramp was released. She is 100 years young today and still going strong.

Rarely-seen (colorized) photo from the set of THE CHAMPION (1915)

It's hard to tell if that's really Charlie going through the archway, but that does appear to be Edna (in the cap & the dog on the right-hand side. I would love to see the original b&w version of this photo.

Thanks to Dominique for sharing this one with me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A JITNEY ELOPEMENT, released April 1, 1915

Written and directed by Charles Chaplin

Edna's father wants her to marry Count Chloride de Lime but she only has eyes for her true love, Charlie. In order to save her, he poses as the Count at dinner until the real Count shows up. Fights, car chases, & brick throwing ensue.

Chaplin shot this film on location in San Francisco. Click here to watch an interesting little "then and now" video by Gerald Smith and David Totheroh.

Enter Charlie
Edna throws him a note from the balcony
Charlie, posing as the Count, cleverly cuts the bread into an accordion.
The real Count de Lime (Leo White) arrives. 
Naturally they're going to fight
And there's even a pile of bricks nearby. How convenient.
Car chase
Charlie stockpiles more conveniently-placed bricks. 
More car chase scenes

And an adorable Charlie and Edna ending. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

THE CHAMPION, released March 11, 1915

Written and directed by Charles Chaplin.

Filmed in Niles, CA, this was his third film for Essanay.

Basic plot: Charlie takes a job as a sparring partner and ends up fighting the world champion.

Chaplin was a longtime fan of boxing. When he moved to California, one of his favorite hobbies was to attend the fights in Vernon. The fights were held on Tuesday, and every Tuesday Chaplin was there. And according to the other attendees, it was often more fun watching him than the fight: "Charlie goes through the whole fight with the fighters. He gets so excited that he ducks and dodges and punches with the prize-fighters. He scowls and cringes and sinks down in his seat. They say it is a strenuous experience to sit next to him. He fairly lacerates your ribs with his pantomime. Every time one of the fighters strikes out, Charlie strikes in sympathy." (Literary Digest, November 10, 1917)

Incidentally one of the last movies Chaplin ever saw, and thoroughly enjoyed, was Rocky, Sylvester Stallone's 1976 film about an underdog boxer.

Charlie's "persnickety pooch" who won't eat his half of the hot dog unless it's salted.
Charlie's training accoutrements: a very lightweight barbell & beer--lots of beer.
Edna, the trainer's daughter.
Charlie's pet bulldog doesn't like the way the fight is going.
On a sad note: Spike the dog was hit by a car and killed in Niles, CA, only a few weeks after
production was completed. 
"To the victor belong the spoils"

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A NIGHT OUT, released February 15, 1915

Shot in Niles, CA, this film marks the 100th anniversary of Edna Purviance's first appearance onscreen.

Even though she is adorable in the film, Edna herself didn't think much of her performance:
"...before I began to be a picture artist, I had thought myself gifted with a little more than ordinary intelligence. After the first day in front of the camera, I came to the conclusion that I was the biggest 'boob' on earth.
"Charlie was very patient with me, though, and after my first picture, in which I think I was terrible--'A Night Out,' you know--I began to get used to the work, and although I have had occasional relapses, as Charlie calls them, I am at least 'camera-wise' by now." (Pictures & The Picturegoer, May 6, 1916)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

HIS NEW JOB, released February 1st, 1915

Charlie plays a would-be actor in His New Job.

This was Chaplin's first (and appropriately titled) film for Essanay and the only film he made at their Chicago studio. Although the film is considered by some today as one of the lesser Chaplin Essanays, it was received with enormous enthusiasm in 1915: "He is just as funny a Charlie Chaplin as he has ever been," wrote the Chicago Tribune."It is hard to conceive of him being any funnier." Moving Picture World declared it "the funniest comedy ever filmed. It is simply a riot of fun from start to finish." Chaplin himself was very proud of the film as well. Shortly after its release he is quoted as saying: "It is the very best comedy I ever produced. The new surroundings and the clever actors whom I had to work with, enabled me to make the greatest comedy of my life. I couldn't help laughing at it myself when I saw it on the screen."

The actress at the typewriter in the back is Gloria Swanson in an early uncredited film appearance.

The Lodestone/Lockstone debate:

I'm not sure if this is still an actual "debate" but at one time a few historians were convinced that the sign on the door read "Lodestone" Motion Picture Co. It even made it into the intertitles on the last set of restored Essanays in 1999 (released by Image Entertainment)

I have to admit that at times I thought it said Lodestone too but upon further inspection, it clearly says "Lockstone." (a play on "Keystone" which makes more sense than "Lodestone.")

Below is a closeup of the door with the image flipped horizontally. That's definitely a "CK" in the middle.


Chicago Tribune, Feb. 2, 1915
Moving Picture World, Feb. 9th & 20th, 1915