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The Immigrant (1917)

Unrated | | Short, Comedy, Drama | 17 June 1917 (USA)
Charlie is an immigrant who endures a challenging voyage and gets into trouble as soon as he arrives in America.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Eric Campbell ...
Head Waiter
Albert Austin ...
Russian / Restaurant diner
Henry Bergman ...
Artist
Kitty Bradbury ...
Edna's mother
Frank J. Coleman ...
Bearded gambler / Restaurant owner
...
Café violinist
Tom Harrington ...
Marriage registrar
James T. Kelley ...
Shabby man in restaurant
John Rand ...
Tipsy diner
Janet Sully ...
Passenger (as Janet Milly Sully)
...
Pint-sized passenger
Tom Wilson ...
Gambler on ship
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Storyline

Charlie is on his way to the USA. He wins in a card game, puts the money in Edna's bag (she and her sick mother have been robbed of everything). When he retrieves a little for himself he is accused of being a thief. Edna clears his name. Later, broke, Charlie finds a coin and goes into a restaurant. There he finds Edna, whose mother has died, and asks her to join him. When he reaches for the coin to pay for their meals it is missing (it has fallen through a hole in his pocket). Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

17 June 1917 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Modern Columbus  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (restored)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. See more »

Goofs

When the ship arrives in New York harbor, it is moving in a southward direction as indicated by the passing view of the Statue of Liberty, but a ship arriving in New York would be heading north, not south. See more »

Quotes

Title Card: Beans!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Precious Images (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

Charlie's Brave New World
29 March 2015 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

THE IMMIGRANT (Mutual Studios, 1917), Written, directed and starring Charlie Chaplin in his eleventh short subject for Mutual, is another well-produced comedy with a good mix of proper story and funny sight gags. Though the film itself could have developed into feature length form, allowing more plot and character development to Chaplin's title role and others around him, the end result, is a story divided in two parts: the first being an introduction of Charlie and other immigrants before they just come off the boat; the second with Charlie in America waiting his ship to come in.

PART ONE: The opening introduces an assortment of various immigrants gathered together on a boat crossing the Atlantic Ocean awaiting their arrival to the land of opportunity. One of the immigrants is a nameless passenger whom will be classified as Charlie (Charlie Chaplin). As he tries keeping balance and avoiding seasickness as the ship sways back and forth in seesaw fashion, Charlie, unable to eat a hearty meal, offers his seat in the mess room to a young girl (Edna Purviance) traveling on board with her widowed mother (Kitty Bradbury). On deck playing a game of cards, one of the players (Henry Bergman) sneaks away long enough to lift the entire life savings from Edna's sleeping mother to use for further gambling purposes. However, it's Charlie who wins the cash. After learning of Edna's misfortune, Charlie, as a friendly gesture, offers her his winnings. As the ship passes the Statue of Liberty and docks on Ellis Island, the passengers part company. PART TWO: Charlie, broke and hungry, finds a coin (possibly a silver dollar) resting on the sidewalk and uses it to spend on a square meal at a nearby restaurant. While there, Charlie reacquaints himself with Edna, inviting her to accompany him for dinner. After Charlie witnesses what happens to a diner who's ten cents short on his bill by a giant-sized waiter (Eric Campbell), also his server, Charlie discovers, to his shocking surprise, the coin to pay for he and Edna's meal is gone!

Others featured in the cast of Chaplin stock players include: Albert Austin (Man in restaurant); Frank J. Coleman (Immigrant/ Restaurant Manager), John Rand, James T. Kelly and Loyal Underwood. Take notice Henry Bergman can be spotted playing two different roles, that of a shipboard passenger, another as an accomplished artist.

Once again, Charlie presents himself as both gentleman of nerve and gentleman of heart. Though it's never fully realized of Charlie's country origin, one would assume that since Chaplin is of British birth that his character is one coming to America from his native England. A funny and agreeable silent comedy with some truly classic scenes, the best saved for its second half in the restaurant involving Chaplin and his Goliath-sized waiter (Campbell).

For the documentary, "Unknown Chaplin," it was profiled as to how THE IMMIGRANT was developed. Using existing outtakes showing Henry Bergman playing the waiter, it's been said that Chaplin found something not right with the picture. Once substituting Bergman with the fierce looking Campbell, the restaurant scene developed into one of the funniest sequences in the entire movie. Sources note that when THE IMMIGRANT was completed, Chaplin had as much as 90,000 feet of negative, having Chaplin himself spending four days and nights editing and putting the pieces together to his satisfaction, which indicates what a perfectionist Chaplin was and how dedicated he was to his craft. Even the final result is atypical Chaplin, making this every bit worth his lost coin of admission to see.

Reviewed from 1990s video cassette copy from Blackhawk/Republic Home Video distribution, the twenties-style orchestration and sound effects on the soundtrack from 1930s reissue simply turns this into pleasant viewing experience. Restored prints with clear visuals, new orchestration and silent speed projection (30 minutes from standard 21) from KINO Video, availability on VHS or DVD, is the print occasionally used for Turner Classic Movies broadcasts (TCM premiere: December 6, 1999). Beware of some poor copies of THE IMMIGRANT and some with missing opening inter-title, "A widow and her daughter" pertaining to Edna and mother) with inappropriate/ bad scoring that hurts the significance of such a great comedy classic. Next Chaplin Mutual comedy: THE ADVENTURER. (****)


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