This is a padded-out, four-reel version of the two-reel short of the same title released in 1915, a spoof of the opera and film versions of Bizet's Carmen. Darn Hosiery, a Spanish officer, is led astray by the gypsy girl Carmen.
This is a parody of two "Carmen"s, Bizet's opera and a movie (1915) starring Geraldine Farrar. Smugglers come ashore. Their leader sends the gypsy Carmen to lure Don Jose (called Darn Hosiery) away so they can get the contraband to town. There are grand swordfights, deaths, returns to life. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Charles Chaplin's two-reel version of this film, his final release for the Essanay Company, premiered in December 1915. After Chaplin left the studio, Essanay expanded the film, adding new scenes with Ben Turpin and Wesley Ruggles as gypsies, reinserting outtakes Chaplin had discarded, and even splicing in multiple takes of scenes already included. Essanay's four-reel "feature" was released in April 1916. Chaplin was furious and filed a lawsuit against his former employers, but Essanay won the case in court. Prints of Essanay's version circulated for decades. In the 1990s an approximation of Chaplin's original version was at long last reconstructed by Kino Video. See more »
If you look at the whole career of that madcap genius Cecil B. DeMille, his style and preoccupations changed considerably over time, but one thing was evident from day one his unshakeable pomposity and over-confidence. That is why he was always a ripe target for satire. Getting an early shot in on the heels one of DeMille's earliest successes was Charlie Chaplin, with his farcical yet precisely aimed Burlesque on Carmen.
These were the days when people would go to see a popular picture many times over. Chaplin too has clearly studied the original, and played upon the familiarity it would have had with audiences of the time. He has mimicked the sets, set-ups and even copied many of the titles verbatim. He even bases gags around very minor aspects of the DeMille film such as the soldiers and smugglers pushing at the door. All this provides a rich environment for Chaplin to tweak into hilariously disrespectful mayhem.
This doesn't appear to be an especially popular or well-known short, perhaps because without the genuine little tramp and modern setting it is not considered kosher Charlie. Personally I feel it is one his best Essanay pictures, for a number of reasons. Virtually the whole of Chaplin's act was satirical on some level, whether he was lampooning the upper class, social norms or modern fads, and generally the bigger the target the bigger the laughs. And simply because of its period trappings it allows him to do funny business with props and situations he would never normally get hold of, such as the numerous gags involving his sword. With his semi-faithful recreation of a contemporary drama, you get to see the considerable straight acting talents of Chaplin and his leading lady Edna Purviance, in a role unlike any other she played, but one she is very suited to. You also have John Rand being very funny in his own right, and Leo White getting the lengthiest and most creative pummelling he ever received from Charlie. Burlesque on Carmen is a unique standout in Chaplin's career, but also great fun to watch.
All of which brings us to the all-important statistic
Number of kicks up the arse: 0 (although it does contain practically everything else)
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