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Easy Street (1917)

Unrated  |   |  Short, Comedy  |  22 January 1917 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 3,001 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 16 critic

A reformed tramp becomes a police constable who must fight a huge thug who dominates an inner city street.


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Complete credited cast:
The Derelict (as Charlie Chaplin)
The Mission Worker
Eric Campbell ...
The Bully


When Charlie the Tramp wanders into a mission he is smitten by Edna and puts back the collection box which he has taken. Reformed, he becomes a policeman and is assigned to rough-and-tumble Easy Street. Unable to trick or beat Eric the Tough, he puts Eric's head in a gas pipe and anesthetizes him. A hero, he now helps many poor people living on Easy Street. Eric escapes jail, Edna is kidnapped, but Charlie (recharged after sitting on a doper's needle) conquers all. Easy Street is transformed as is Eric. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Comedy


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 January 1917 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Calle Easy  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (restored) | (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The lamppost used in the famous scene between Charles Chaplin and Eric Campbell fell on Chaplin during filming, requiring his hospitalization. See more »


[first lines]
Chief of Police: [title card] Your beat is Easy Street.
See more »


Featured in Denn sie kennen kein Erbarmen - Der Italowestern (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Law Abiding Charlie
25 April 2015 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

EASY STREET (Mutual, 1917), Written and directed by Charlie Chaplin, stars Charlie Chaplin in another classic comedy short from his Mutual Studio 1916-17 period. A story comedy, this one contains the usual quota of slapstick, chases and assortment of characters in and around the tough district of Easy Street, with plotting that could have been lifted from a Bible story of "David and Goliath" where the meek (Chaplin) encounters with the way of the strong (Eric Campbell).

Opening title card: "A new beginning." A homeless tramp (Charlie Chaplin) in the poor city district of town, sleeping by the bottom of the steps of the Hope Mission, is awaken by hymn singing parishioners. Entering the building, Charlie seats himself next to a woman and her baby. As the minister (Albert Austin) preaches his sermon, Charlie takes an interest in the young attractive organ player, Prudence (Edna Purviance), the preacher's daughter. In the meantime on Easy Street, police brave a losing battle of gang fights lead by a giant bully, Bill Basher (Eric Campbell) having the law enforcement officers carried away in a stretcher, bruised up in torn uniforms. A sign, "Policeman wanted," immediately posted outside the door attracts the attention of the passer-by Charlie. Now a new fledge police officer, Charlie's beat becomes Easy Street, which turns out not so easy when coming face to face with the meanest looking brute feared by the community, Bill Baster. Will Charlie live long enough to retire and collect his pension? Time will tell, even if it's only for twenty two minutes.

EASY STREET certainly ranks one of Chaplin's finest. Though not particularly playing New York City's finest, situations depicted could very well be anywhere. A glimpse of a sign captured on screen indicates the setting to be Los Angeles, California, and not in Charlie's homeland of the dive district of London. What makes those Chaplin Mutual comedies to be his best would be his creative genius of turning a simple story and making it as funny as can be, even with serious suspenseful moments by placing hero and heroine inside a locked room with a dope fiend. Of course there's the oft-casting of Edna Purviance as Charlie's female co-star, and other staff players as Henry Bergman, Frank J. Coleman, Charlotte Mineau, John Rand and Loyal Underwood in their assigned roles. None come close to scene stealing as Eric Campbell, the bully of the district. Working under Chaplin's company for the eighth time, Campbell abandons the traditional weird beard for a dirty face, shaved head and pointy eyebrows in the matter of the devil's horns. Of the scenes depicted, the best segments are those involving Chaplin and Campbell: Campbell showing how solid his head can be as Officer Charlie hits it repeatedly with his club; a scene involving them using a street lamp; and of course, the end result not to be missed. With Campbell often labeled as "Chaplin's Goliath," for EASY STREET, he's Chaplin's Hercules, considering his super human strength and ability to break out of tight situations, including handcuffs.

Aside from Charlie promoting himself from tramp to policeman, there's moments in between his official duties where he shows heart and humility towards those in need, such as a hungry woman caught stealing a loaf of bread to feed her family. For Chaplin, he doesn't do this for sentimental purposes but showing how his character can be just as human as anyone else, and still get few laughs in the process.

Years before cable television broadcasts as Arts and Entertainment in the 1980s, EASY STREET had become one of many early Chaplin comedies to be shown on either public or commercial television, the latter as part of the 1960s series, "Charlie Chaplin Comedy Theater." Prints containing 1920s sounding orchestral score with singing and sound effects from 1930s reissues were most commonly shown on PBS stations prior to 1972, the same prints acquired from Blackhawk/Republic Home Video in eighties and nineties. At present, restored prints, new orchestral scoring with silent film projection speed have become available from Kino Video in both video and DVD formats , the same prints occasionally used on Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: December 6, 1999). Next Chaplin Mutual comedy, THE CURE (1917). (***1/2)

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