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Friday, August 22, 2014

Charlie Chaplin's evolving talent seen in 'Chaplin's Mutual Comedies'


Charlie Chaplin grows from one-dimensional slapstick into a complex character.
 
Release of Charlie Chaplin's comedy set was delayed to improve restorations of 'Easy Street' and 'The Rink'.
 
Watching the new Blu-ray/DVD set "Chaplin's Mutual Comedies" is a revelation because one can witness a master filmmaker coming of age.

Charlie Chaplin introduced his beloved, baggy-panted Tramp in 1914 while at Mack Sennett's Keystone Studios. In the dozen shorts made in 1916 and '17 at Mutual, the Tramp evolved from a slapstick-driven character to a three-dimensional, complex individual filled with humor, pathos and humanity. These comedies lay the groundwork for his feature film masterpieces including 1925's "The Gold Rush" and 1931's "City Lights."
"In those 12 films, you realize by watching them Chaplin is moving from the slapstick comedian in 1914 to the real filmmaker he was at the end of the Mutual films," said film archivist and historian Serge Bromberg of the Paris-based Lobster Films, which digitally restored more than half of the comedies in the new set, including "The Fireman," "Behind the Screen, "The Rink" and "Easy Street."
"When you watch his first comedy for Mutual, 1916's 'The Floorwalker,' it is routine," Bromberg said. "It is amazingly well done, but it is just slapstick. When you watch the last film, 'The Adventurer,' it is absolutely perfect — the timing and the construction."

The other Chaplin films in the Mutual collection are "The Vagabond," "One a.m," "The Count" "The Cure," "The Pawnshop" and "The Immigrant." These comedies also star Edna Purviance, Chaplin's love interest off screen, and Eric Campbell, the burly Scottish actor who brilliantly played Chaplin's nemesis in these comedies.

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