“Forgotten Hollywood”- Chaplin / Essanay Work Now on Sale

Posted on December 3, 2015 by raideoman1 | No Comments

Manny P. here…

   Most of Charlie Chaplin’s famous two reel comedies are from his time with Mutual Film Corporation. During 1916 and 1917, he turned out a series of twelve outstanding, influential comedies that placed him among the most popular of all silent film stars. But, before Mutual (and after his brief tenure at Keystone Studios), Chaplin worked for one year at Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, a studio founded by Broncho Billy Anderson. If not for Chaplin’s comedies, it’s doubtful, anyone would today remember the Essanay name.

charlie_chaplin_2447105   Unlike the Mutual comedies, the films he produced at Essanay are rarely studied in cinematic schools, with the exception of The Tramp, the one unqualified gem in his arsenal. However, these comedies are important films in the development of Chaplin’s screen persona. The closing shot of Charlie wandering down the road by himself is iconic. The character development of his role was evident early on, which led to an element of pathos intermixed with humor. The final effect was intoxicating.

   Upon Charlie Chaplin’s arrival at Essany, he immediately encountered difficulties with the producers, who weren’t interested in giving him the freedom he desired. He was even given scripts to work from. (Louella Parsons, who would become one of Hollywood’s most famous gossip column writers, was the head scenario writer at Essanay). However, Chaplin rejected most tampering and worked with his own stories, although the pressure to produce a new comedy every two weeks is  frequently apparent in much of his work at Essanay.

    The quality of the source material varies. At times, the prints are relatively free of wear, but at other times, obvious well-worn segments appear. This is the nature of restoring works of silent cinema, now over 80 years old. Negatives frequently were left to deteriorate in film vaults. Entire reels decomposed. However, thanks to the work of David Shepard of Film Preservation Associates, Chaplin’s Essanay comedies have been pieced back together from choice material discovered around the world. They haven’t looked this good in many decades. This is the definitive edition of these productions.

51kDlmozNPL   Thanks to Kino on Video, these Chaplin comedies are now available again in excellent transfers. Several of the shorts were previously available, but the new versions have been made from newly restored prints with re-recorded musical accompaniment. Included in this set are some real surprises for Chaplin fans, including previously unavailable material.

   Chaplin’s Essanay Comedies is on DVD (a three disc set ) and VHS (a four video set) at sites that cater to silent films and classic movies, and on Amazon. Flicker Alley and The Blackhawk Film Collection are proud to present this third and final installment of the Chaplin Project (lead by Lobster Films and Cineteca di Bologna), a massive, twelve year endeavor to compile all of Chaplin’s output from 1914-1917. Their 5-disc box Blu-ray DVD set features the 15 newly restored films.

   On a personal note, the Forgotten Hollywood Book Series can also be purchased at the Niles Essanay Museum in Fillmore, CA. This is the location of the original studio during the infancy of cinema.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 at 12:43 am and is filed under Blog by Manny Pacheco. You can follow any comments to this post through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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