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Behind the Screen (1916)

TV-G  |   |  Short, Comedy, Romance  |  13 November 1916 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,504 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 7 critic

Charlie is an overworked labourer at a film studio who helps a young woman find work even while his coworkers strike against his tyrannical boss.

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(uncredited)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Eric Campbell ...
Goliath - a Stagehand
...
David - His Assistant
...
The Girl
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Storyline

Three movies are being shot simultaneously and Charlie is an overworked scene shifter. The foreman is waited on hand and foot until all the shifters but Charlie go on strike. A girl looking for work pretends to be a man and helps Charlie. Charlie discovers her gender and falls in love with her. The foreman thinks they are homosexual and in the ensuing fight they become involved in a long pie throwing scene from one of the movies in production. The frustrated workers dynamite the studio. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

TV-G | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

13 November 1916 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Pride of Hollywood  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was restored in 2013 through the Chaplin Mutual Project thanks to the financial support of French director Michel Hazanavicius. See more »

Connections

Featured in Silent Clowns: Charlie Chaplin (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Dressing the scene"
13 February 2010 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

Charlie Chaplin sometimes repeated himself when it came to ideas for his comedy shorts, but only when his skill and technique had improved significantly in the meantime. Behind the Screen treads similar ground to Dough and Dynamite (made at Keystone) and His New Job (made at Essanay), being a comical expose on the film-making process itself, but it demonstrates all the development his style had made since those older pictures.

One major difference is the audacity and satiric bite of Chaplin's comedy by this point. Unlike the earlier examples, Behind the Screen bases most of its jokes on the artificiality of cinema, with "marble" pillars being shifted by hand, an "invisible" trapdoor that causes mayhem, and eventually the dramatic department having its dignity invaded by errant custard pies from a comedy set. He also has a sly dig at pompous directors and lazy stagehands. All this from an era before the majority of people in the audience wouldn't have really known exactly what went on behind the cameras. Still there is enough broad slapstick here to entertain the viewers who don't get the in-jokes.

Chaplin's management of the comedy is also now incredibly refined and to-the-point. In the earliest scenes, he shows how he can make himself the centre of attention without necessarily being in the foreground. Whilst everyone else on the set stays fairly still, Charlie bustles about all over the place leaving chaos in his wake. It's funnier this way because we see the little tramp upsetting the order of his environment.

The comedian had by now also accumulated a regular crew of supporting players – comic actors who were more buffoonish and ridiculous than funny in their own right, thus providing suitable antagonists for the little tramp. Eric Campbell is as usual the burly bully – the tyrant of a small pond who it is satisfying to see knocked down. Henry Bergman, in only his second of what would be many appearances with Chaplin is the perfect awkward fat man. He must have been a real find, and Charlie seems to take every opportunity to knock him down to get that undignified and helpless flailing of arms and legs that Bergman was the master of. And of course he now has Edna Purviance – by now often the only one allowed to be a completely straight actress. Her features are too feminine to be a convincing tomboy, but at least she gets the chance to be involved in some of the comedic action this time round.

Which leaves me only to give out the all-important statistic –

Number of kicks up the arse: 7 (5 for, 2 against)


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