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A Burlesque on Carmen (1915)

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A gypsy seductress is sent to sway a goofy officer to allow a smuggling run.



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Complete credited cast:
Officer Darn Hosiery
John Rand ...
Jack Henderson ...
Lillas Pastia
Leo White ...
May White ...
Lawrence A. Bowes ...
Frank J. Coleman ...


This is the original two-reel parody of Bizet's Carmen by Chaplin. Darn Hosiery, a Spanish officer, is seduced by the gypsy girl Carmen, leading to disgrace and downfall. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Comedy





Release Date:

18 December 1915 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Charlie Chaplin's Burlesque on Carmen  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Charles Chaplin released this two reel comedy in 1915, shortly before leaving Essanay. That studio then padded the film with two more reels of non-Chaplin material and re-released it as a four-reel film in 1916. See more »


Version of The Loves of Carmen (1948) See more »

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User Reviews

Early Chaplin: Refining Burlesque
8 August 2005 | by See all my reviews

Chaplin liked Cecil B. DeMille's "Carmen"; this, I think, was his only effort devoted to parodying a sole film. I disliked DeMille's "Carmen"; neither the direction, nor narrative impressed me, and Geraldine Farrar was annoying. Edna Purviance is much easier to watch. Her caricature of Farrar's obnoxious narcissism was entertaining and rather satisfying--nearly making the experience of watching Farrar's performance worthwhile. And, Chaplin is funnier here than in any film he had done before. This, not "The Champion", "The Tramp", or "Police", is what I consider the jewel of his outturn at Essanay.

This short follows the same plot of DeMille's "Carmen", nicely condensed, absent the melodrama. And, I'm discussing the 1915 "Burlesque on Carmen", not the bastardized version Essanay created the following year, after Chaplin had left the studio. That one includes a subplot involving Ben Turpin, which pads on two more reels to the formerly 2-reel short. This, the original, preferred version is a visually coherent, appropriately photographed short (other than some jump cuts). Chaplin took the style, or look--tinting, mise-en-scène, composition and such--right out of DeMille's film. As a result, this is one of Chaplin's better-looking films from his early work. If nothing else, DeMille made some pretty pictures.

Chaplin did transform, or mature his comedy while at Essanay; although, of his Essanay films, only a few are very discernible from his Keystone shorts. You may witness a slight maturing in his other Essanay movies, but "Burlesque on Carmen" seems to introduce a radically more mature burlesque for Chaplin. And, I mean "burlesque" in two senses: first, this film is a burlesque in that it parodies another film, and, second, it may be that Chaplin learned to refine the broad, crude and frantic humor of his Keystone upbringing in the process of parodying that film. There's a clear focus here--in parodying DeMille's film, and thus we get a substantial refinement in Chaplin's style.

There are some very funny moments here, too. The swordfight, which turns into a wrestling match, is great. Chaplin continually interrupts the photoplay by breaking down the fourth wall, including winking at the camera. Another of my favorite gags is when Chaplin, looking as close to the tramp as in any part of the film, stops at a saloon before continuing with the expected storyline.

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