I was interested in reviewing three short nostalgic gems of footage from the great hero of slapstick, Charlie Chaplin. What is most fascinating about these is they have only recently been discovered, coming to light accidentally by Christophe Durand, an editor/VFX compositor and film Director who discovered the reels in a forgotten attic and excitedly scanned the footage. This is what it contains:
Chaplin is eating on a balcony with a sophisticated woman, who begins to look uncomfortable as he messes with his dessert. He drops a large part of his dessert over the balcony and it ends up going down the back of a woman’s dress below and the wrong man gets accused of doing this, leading to typical Chaplin humour involving stunts, chase scenes, a lampshade and much slapstick.
This is my favourite in this mini-trilogy. Chaplin is an unlikely policeman being sent on an assignment. Simultaneously a very large, threatening looking man is turning some trousers upside down, pouring some change out of them. As in ‘The Adventurer’, this is a silent film with captions occasionally setting the scene. Examples are ‘Where ignorance is bliss’ and ‘Guess I’ll phone a policeman’. When Chaplin first sees the bully it seems he has no chance against him, mainly due to the comical differences in physical build, but Chaplin tries to use trickery by getting him to answer a telephone and hitting him over the head with it. The man feels nothing and takes his coat off, roling up his sleeves ready for a fight against Chaplin. He is so strong he physically bends the lamppost and lifts Chaplin in the air and then puts him back down; but Chaplin climbs on his back and puts his head in the lamppost and overpowers him this way, leaving him stunned. Chaplin then uses the telephone to call the sergeant and proudly patrols the street in his legendary way while he waits for the rest of the force to turn up and arrest the man!
The Man Hunt
Chaplin’s head appears in a hole in sand while a guard snoozes. He is dressed as a convict and tricks another guard by pretending to be shot, kicking him down a hill. Unfortunately this is where the footage ends but it is a real treat for old and new generations of Chaplin fans.
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