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The Immigrant (1917)

Unrated  |   |  Short, Comedy, Drama  |  17 June 1917 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 4,436 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 14 critic

Charlie is an immigrant who endures a challenging voyage and gets into trouble as soon as he arrives in America.

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(uncredited)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Immigrant (as Charlie Chaplin)
...
Eric Campbell ...
The Head Waiter
Albert Austin ...
A Diner
Henry Bergman ...
The Artist
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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

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 June 1917 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Modern Columbus  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (restored)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Kevin Brownlow's and David Gill's documentary series Unknown Chaplin (1983), the first scenes to be written and filmed take place in what became the movie's second half, in which the penniless Tramp finds a coin and goes for a meal in a restaurant, not realizing that the coin has fallen out of his pocket. It was not until later that Charles Chaplin decided the reason the Tramp was penniless was that he had just arrived on a boat from Europe, and used this notion as the basis for the first half. Edna Purviance reportedly was required to eat so many plates of beans during the many takes to complete the restaurant sequence (in character as another immigrant who falls in love with Charlie) that she became physically ill. See more »

Goofs

In the restaurant scene, after the customer is beaten up and thrown out for being 10 cents short, his hat is seen on the floor next to the cashier's desk. When the waiters come back in, the hat is gone. See more »

Connections

Featured in Days of Heaven (1978) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Immortal comedy that can only be considered the work of a genius.

"The Immigrant" was the film that changed my entire perception of Chaplin. I had no idea whatsoever that a silent film could actually make me laugh much less tell a coherent story.

The way Chaplin set up the boat scene was excellent. It was filthy, overcrowded, and uncomfortable and it made me want to "root" for the prosperity of the immigrants. The writing was again much better than I could have expected such as in the scene where he gives his winnings to a poor woman but is mistaken for stealing them. The audience found the flip flopping of dishes (and passengers) on deck to be very funny. I thought it to be a bit schticky, but pleasantly humorous.

The restaurant scene however, left an impression on me that I will hold onto my entire career in film. The beans in the coffee and the imposing thug waiter were a hoot but I particularly liked his methods of peaks and valleys and letting the audience in on secrets while masking them from the characters. These techniques kept us interested such as when he finds the coin (peak), loses the coin (valley, secret), then snakes the artist's tip to pull off paying for the meal (peak, secret). It wasn't so much the antics or writing of that particular scene that affected me though they were outrageously comical. It was rather, a realization that I was in a room with a large majority of teenagers many of whose grandparents weren't even born when this film was made yet these teenagers were all laughing hysterically. How is it that a man's writing and performance make men, women and children laugh in the 20's, 50's, 70's, AND 90's? The answer is immortal comedy that can only be considered the work of a genius.


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