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Charlie Chaplin Film by Film Thread. Pt. 3: Mutual

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Rfreeman, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    Oh yeah, my original deleted write up mentioned that opening shot too. Love how you can recognize him from just his feet, and that he knew that too be true.
     
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  2. antoniod

    antoniod Forum Resident

    I remember being astounded by the clarity of the Van Buren versions of the Mutual Chaplins, and wondering why all the versions couldn't look that good. TV's CHARLIE CHAPLIN COMEDY THEATRE often used stretch-printed dupes of Van Buren prints.
     
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  3. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
    Chaplin was such a pioneer. Look, an early example of product placement. Falstaff Beer!
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
    Since I was little my mom always said I had "Charlie Chaplain feet". They are a 90 degree angle that with little effort I can turn near backwards or a straight out 180. I can do a Plie with no effort. Freaks people out.
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
     
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  6. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    Awesome! Real early in his career as that came out in 1915. Someone should make a video that syncs that to Chaplin footage.
     
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  7. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
     
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  8. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    I agree it is not as full of slapstick guffaws as many others. But it could be the first successful RomCom.
     
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  9. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
  10. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    Sorry I've been slacking. Will get back on it soon.
     
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  11. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    One A.M. (film # 56)
    Two Reels 27:26
    Released August 7, 1916

    This is a totally unique Chaplin film as it is essentially a solo vehicle which scarcely have been more different from its immediate predecessor . Apart from a few minutes in which a cab driver shares the scene (and does virtually nothing) what we have is Chaplin doing solo physical comedy as a drunk person (in top hat, not derby and cane) having an extremely challenging time getting out of a cab, into his house, have a smoke and drink, go up the stairs and get into bed. As there is nobody else to play off, the comedy is based on his struggles with the props he encounters. It really is a tour de force, showing off his skills with movement and manipulation, and allowing him to build up elaborate gags that repeat with thythm and variation (shades of Groundhog Day). He must try to get up the stairs (and stay there) close to 20 times in 7 minutes.

    Many of the props he does battle with are very cleverly constructed: a table that will spin like a treadmill, a coat rack he can climb up to the second level, a clock pendulum that knocks him back down the stairs, sliding (wire manipulated) sliding animal skin rugs with mouths that catch his feet and the piece de resistance: a Murphy bed that spins, drops every which way, springs back up, and collapses to frustrate every attempt to settle down for a night's sleep (he eventually gives up and collapses for the night in his bath tub). I expect a lot of outtakes were generated as he sought the perfect takes of these complex bits (subtitles are used in this film less to advance the plot - there is none - and more to provide cut aways to avoid jump cuts when splicing takes together). The dexterity he exhibits in manipulating and interacting with these props has elements of dance and slight of hand like skill mixed in with the pratfalls. But the funniest moments for me are not the elaborately worked out ones, but the parts that are brief surprises -l ike landing his foot in a goldfish bowl twice.

    People that enjoy physical comedy and know Chaplin largely from his features will delight in the volume and concentration of such material here, which comes only in brief spurts in his feature films - there is probably more physical comedy in this two reeler than in any of his features. On the other hand it can get fatiguing watching that much straight on prop based physical comedy without any of the let up or dynamics provided by interpersonal interaction, plot and character development. As he explores every way he can fail to get up the stairs the viewer can get as frustrated with the seemingly endless Sisyphean struggle as Charlie does. By the end of the film I am enthralled by the technique he has exhibited, but a bit ready to collapse in the bath myself. It's more Chopin solo piano etude than Beethoven piano sonata. But while the concept can be criticized, the execution is close to perfect, making it a must watch film for Chaplin devotees but not the best thing to show someone new to Chaplin.

    I had read reports that there was a lot of extra material added to this compared to the DVD editions, but perhaps those comparisons were to earlier versions than the Image DVD set I have, as my two latest copies cover the same ground and are not far off in length. There is a vast improvement in print quality from the Image DVD to the BFI BluRay, though the new version lacks the indoor / outdoor tinting that is used by Image. Personally I am glad it is not used in this edition as I find it a distraction.

    Rating: Content: 8.5 /10; Print 7/10
     
  12. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Location:
    Out of My Element
    "One A.M." is much more a film I admire than a film I enjoy. Chaplin's comic craft is definitely on display, and there are a number of moments of great creativity and physical elegance. But I'm really not a fan of the drunk act, and this "feels" like a much longer film than it is. It's a landmark film, no doubt, but simply not one of my favorites, personally.
     
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  13. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Location:
    Marple, PA, USA
    I worked with a woman who could do that. Yea, it was freaky, like the kid in HS who could dislocate his shoulder at will.
    The odd thing about the woman who could do that was she had a funny habit of stamping her feet when she was angry. She's walk into our area, and if she was pissed, you could hear her coming.
     
  14. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    Why did I take 4x as much "ink" to say that?
     
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  15. Matt Richardson

    Matt Richardson Forum Resident

    Location:
    60302
    By the daylight in the opening scene it appears to be one pm rather than one am:laugh:
     
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  16. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    The tinting on the Image DVD version did help there - and probably is how it was originally screened.
     
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  17. antoniod

    antoniod Forum Resident

    Hmm. "He shuffles down the lane, he sees the cop on the beat, he likes to have a cane, he's got CHARLIE CHAPLIN FEET!"
     
  18. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
    Chaplains biggest claim to fame coming out of the British music halls was his drunk act. The tramp was seldom drunk, but at Mutual Charlie's staggering act showed up more than once. Seemingly every inanimate object is out to get him of simply defeat anything he wants to do. If Charlie is flustered sober he must he must be completely bamBOOZEled when drunk. The last one was set in a saloon, and this one is a sot. Chaplain will play a drunk a lot in his Mutuals.
    Prohibition. How much of a role did these films, and others, have on public perception in the lead up to ratification of the 18th amendment in 1920?
     
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  19. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    The Count (film # 57)
    Two Reels 25:15
    Released September 4, 1916

    After a couple somewhat groundbreaking films, The Count is a step back into more familiar territory, reminiscent of the Keystone Caught in a Cabaret. Oddly it is less developed in this film which seems to have a largely improvised plot. Nonetheless, Chaplin's antagonistic (Swain-like) dynamic with Eric Campbell flourishes against this Keystonesque framework.

    The Count starts with Charlie playing incompetent assistant to Campbell's tailor: burning through clothes with an iron and taking all kinds of odd measurements of a customer. Then Campbell finds an invitation in customer Count Broko's jacket and decides to impersonate him at a party, where Charlie also turns up, initially flirting with the cook in the Kitchen and hiding away from others (including in a hamper with a smelly cheese), before popping into the party via dumbwaiter pulling a reverse on Campbell by announcing that he is the Count and Campbell is his Secretary.

    Once seated at a table in the party, we get a funny food manners sequence reminiscent of that in and A Jitney Elopement. Charlie gestures to Eric to stop slurping his soup each time he wants to hear Edna speak. He also gets in trouble with spaghetti and winds up having to tie a napkin around his head after it got engulfed by a large slice of watermelon. After the meal Charlie and Eric vie for Edna's attention on the dance floor. Charlie does a funny dance using his cane and a chandelier to pull himself up. The band leader here gestures in a broad style reminiscent of Ford Sterling in Tango Tangales. The dancefloor becomes a showcase for a wide variety of flirting, dancing and fighting before ending in a chase with Charlie running off.

    There are a bunch of fun bits in this film and the dynamic with Campbell is great. Its aimlessness is notable compared to most of the other films he was making at this stage and it overall does not leave as strong an impression as many. But it is all nicely paced, humorous and entertaining.

    Rating:
    Content: 7 /10;
    Print 6/10
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
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  20. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Location:
    Out of My Element
    I like "The Count" but it sometimes has the feel of having been made in a bit of a hurry (at least in Mutual terms). There aren't really any fall-on-the-floor funny bits here, but just a number of funny little moments. The "ass-kicking contest" with Charlie and Eric Campbell on the dance floor is entertaining, as is Charlie's cane-aided dance with Edna.
     
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  21. davenav

    davenav High Plain Grifter

    Location:
    Brooklyn, USA
    One A.M. - a film that was very popular, and very much was copied in its day. With 20/20 hindsight we judge it as unremarkable, but it certainly was not to the viewer of 1916.

    The table-dance, alone, stands as a ridiculously ingenious sequence. But, really, all of it was a wonderful expansion, not a repeat, of his drunken act and the drunk acts of all his competitors.
     
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  22. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    While I think it was a great film, my understanding is that at the time it actually drew considerably fewer viewers than Chaplin's recent films had, which is one reason he did not repeat the solo act again.
     
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  23. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Location:
    Out of My Element
    Can't move on from "The Count" without asking the question that has perplexed generations - Why are half the party guests dressed for a formal affair and half the guests dressed for a masquerade party?
     
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  24. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
    Costume optional?
     
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  25. JamieC

    JamieC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Detroit Mi USA
    This is gonna take years. lol
     

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