(Above source: GoodFreePhotos)
Charlie Chaplin, who was born 130 years ago on April 16, hit his stride in 1916 when he signed a one-year contract with the Mutual Film Corporation, making him the highest paid filmmaker in the United States. Under the agreement, he starred in 12 two-reel comedies, many of which stand as some of the most brilliantly funny films he ever produced.
The Film Detective is celebrating Chaplin with a selection of his early work, including three classics from the 1916-1917 Mutual partnership – Easy Street, The Immigrant and The Cure.
In Easy Street, Chaplin is a vagrant who stumbles into a church and hears the calling – to become a cop. He’s assigned to a neighborhood so tough that even his fellow officers are afraid to patrol it. Soon, Charlie is face-to-face with neighborhood bully (Eric Campbell), while befriending a mission worker (Edna Purviance). Along the way he discovers that gas streetlights and iron stoves make effective law-enforcement tools.
Chaplin teams again with Purviance and Campbell in The Immigrant and The Cure. In the Immigrant, Charlie undertakes a sea-sickening voyage to make a new life in America. Once on dry land, however, things don’t go any smoother. In The Cure, Chaplin is an alcoholic who checks into a health spa for treatment. Needless to say, he doesn’t get with the program.
After concluding his Mutual contract, Chaplin made a 40-minute short called A Dog’s Life (1918), which you can also watch on The Film Detective. Chaplin rescues a small dog who is attacked by other mutts. Together, the Tramp and the pooch try to survive on the streets. A Dog’s Life features a hilarious pantomime involving Chaplin’s hands and two thieves, one of whom Chaplin has knocked unconscious. Purviance, a Chaplin leading lady on and off screen, appears as a bar singer.
The Film Detective is also showing such early Chaplin shorts as Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1914), The Tramp (1915), and A Woman (1915), with Charlie in drag. And you can catch a very young Jackie Coogan (The Addams Family’s Uncle Fester) in The Kid (1921).
Finally, there’s a behind-the-scenes look at Chaplin. Chaplin’s Art of Comedy (1968) is a documentary showing his evolution from slapstick gags to more layered dramatic comedy.
The Film Detective is a veteran distributor of classic films and TV shows via home video and cable channels. It launched as a streamer in 2016 and costs $3.99 per month or $34.99 per year. It is available on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and iOS. You can also stream The Film Detective free, with ads, on all the platforms and online at thefilmdetective.tv.
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