charlie chaplin, silent movies

The band leader has a sneaky feeling for the hat check girl

A piece of trivia for Sunday morning: 2014 is the 100th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin in film.

His first appearance as the Tramp, 1914

Like everything else in the last century, the film industry has progressed by leaps and bounds in 100 years. Crazy to think that back then, cameramen had to constantly crank their cameras and editors literally edited film with scissors and tape. Watching some of these early movies, 1914 really does seem like a whole different world, where cars and electricity were a luxury, and films were accompanied by live music because records weren’t even a regular thing.

Because I couldn’t go to the Chaplin Centennial in SF yesterday, I celebrated instead by watching some of Charlie’s very first movies, which luckily are on YouTube in abundance because they’re all public domain. [Important to note: these were before Chaplin started writing/directing his own films, so by default they are super silly, what with the slapstick and Keystone Kops and all.]

Making A Living – this was Charlie’s first starring role, in which he plays swindler instead of the Tramp. It’s pretty ridiculous, but there are some cool shots of early LA!

Kid Auto Races At Venice – the first movie where Charlie appeared as the Tramp. It almost seems like an extended screen test…no real plot to it (basically just the Tramp being attracted to the camera) but funny nonetheless.

Tango Tangles – I just love this one, because it features adorable little Charlie without the mustache and baggy clothes. Also starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. This was the best quality I could find on YouTube, although the title cards are poorly re-written. My favorite part is definitely the coat-flailing fight scene from 8:15 to the end. I’m almost positive that the term “kick your ass” comes straight from these silent movies, in which there was a lot of literal ass-kicking.

In all, Charlie starred in something like 25 movies in 1914, which is a lot even considering how short they were. Maybe if I keep up my blogging I can use this year to do some more in-depth posts about Charlie’s movies, year by year. It’s cool to see how they went from slapstick to motion picture.

Got to run now…but I’ve got some more posts queued up so hopefully I’ll be back soon!

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