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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From Derilict to Constable On Patrol, Chaplin's "Little Tramp" Displayed A Balanced Firm Yet Compassionate Public Attitude.
Mr. Chaplin,of course, had gotten his initiation into the Motion Picture Business with Mack Sennettat the Keystone Studio. The year was 1914 and Mack signed Charlie to a one year deal. Acting and physical comedy were all deeply embedded in the Chaplin personality as he had just about grown up on the stage. He had done a lot of different work, including the boy in the stage play, THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES.
At the time of his discovery by Sennett (There was no American Idol Show then!)he had just finished a tour of the States in a show called, "A NIGHT IN THE English MUSIC HALL", which was called "THE MUMMING BIRDS" in Britain. He had a featured part in a sketch where he played an annoying Drunk.* Also in the show was a fellow Englishman by the name of Arthur Stanley Jefferson, a Red Headed lad who took the Stage Name of Stan Laurel.** After this first year in the Sennett Stable, the young Chaplin's stock had risen considerably. He had started out as mostly a supporting player and quickly moved up the ladder to featured comic. By the end of 1914,he was writing, directing and acting in front of the camera. Enter Essanay.
The Essanay Film Manufacturing Corporation of Chicago was founded by partners George K.Spoor and G.M. Anderson(better known as Broncho Billy).*** The name is derived from the 'S' in Spoor and the 'A' in Anderson. Hence we get S and A, or the single name, "Essanay".
Spoor and Anderson opened up their coffers in order to obtain the services of Charlie. He also got plenty of perks in the deal. He would essentially be his own boss, writing, directing, etc. hat was good for 1915, but what next?
In 1917 the Chaplin show moved on. Now a fresh new deal was inked with 'The Little Tramp' late in '16. Mr. Charles Chaplin now had big buck$ in $alary, lot$ of ca$h for budgetary consideration and full artistic freedom. He could make his films as he wanted, taking whatever time needed, employing what methods he saw fit to use.
All that resulted was a fabulous 12 two reel films, each one a gem. He had elevated the 2 reeler Comedy Short Subject to the level of most Feature Films. The films would be released as a production of Mutual's Lone Star comedies. Much like Jackie Gleason's HONEYMOONERS episodes of '50's Television fame, it is just about impossible to pick a favourite.
EASY STREET has always been rated right up at the top of the bunch to this writer. In it the Little Tramp is seen as a "Derilict", living on 'Skid Row' and will do just about any thing. After meeting up with a lovely Mission Lady (Edna Purviance), Charlie is smitten and vows to make himself. As he leaves the Salvation Army-Type Rescue Mission, he even gives back the collection basket that he has stolen.
The Tramp soon answers a 'Help Wanted' sign hanging on the local Police Station. Then for the remaining three quarters of this film we see a great variety of the finest mixtures of sight gags and true sentiment. He proves to be firm, yet charitable. His persona as a Police Officer is multi-faceted. He is not only the 'Man', or the 'Big Heat'.
The sequence leading up to his tangling with the Bully of Easy Street (Eric Campbell) is a magnificently engineered gag upon gag, finally reaching a crescendo. And, just when victory seems to be at hand, the 'Problem' returns.
The end of the film shows that Beat Cop Chaplin not only has been successful in 'cleaning-up' of Easy Street crime conditions, but also has done okay with the Mission Lady.
Just as an after thought, in looking at this 1917 Comedy, we may very well have a glimpse into the heart and soul of The Little Trasmp. In his later years in the U.S.A., Mr. Chaplin came under suspicion for his Political Beliefs. This was the era of one Joe Stalin and the "Red Scare". Charles had gotten a reputation for his inquiry about radical or 'Un-American Idologies, not that he ever opened up his check book to Moscow or anything like that. Anyway as we all know, he was refused re-admission into the United States following a European trip in 1952.You see, Chaplin had never become a U.S. Citizen and had been classified as an "Undesirable Alien". He did not return until 20 years later when he received a Special Oscar at the 1972 Academy Awards.
Examination of the Morale at the End of EASY STREET would seem to contradict the presence of any Communist sentiments. A very poetic Title Card tells of the need for both Social Compassion and a Law Abiding citizenry. It's there, honest! Just watch it! * Elements of his act a very much in evidence in many of his early films at Keystone, Essanay and Mutual.
** Yes, that same guy who later gained immortality as 1/2 of the Film Comedy Team of Laurel & Hardy. Besides his own parts, Stan also understudied Charlie's Drunk Act.
*** "Broncho Billy" was the first Western Hero on the screen. While Chaplin was at the Essanay Company, He appeared in a cameo shot in the G.M. Anderson, "Broncho Billy" film, HIS REGENERATION. Mr. Anderson reciprocated and was in a Chaplin CVomedy.
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