The Masquerader (1914) Poster

(I) (1914)

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Uneven, But Interesting & Generally Amusing Short Comedy
Snow Leopard4 March 2004
This is an interesting little short comedy that, while rather uneven, is generally amusing. It's mostly remembered for Chaplin disguising himself as a woman, in an attempt to get into a movie studio. The idea of a man masquerading as a woman, or vice versa, was relatively common in the old silent comedies - this is one of the more believable efforts, as Charlie's disguise is credible enough to make that part of the movie work all right. But that's not necessarily the best or even the most interesting part of the film.

The setting in a movie studio is interesting in itself, offering a chance for some good-natured self-parody, and they got reasonable mileage out of the idea. Perhaps the best-crafted scene occurs very early on, when Chaplin and 'Fatty' Arbuckle have a battle of wits in the dressing room. It's no coincidence that it is the one scene in the picture in which Chaplin performs with another highly talented comedian, as the smooth timing and careful movement make it stand out from the more disjointed, frantic pace of most of the rest of the movie. But even as a whole, the movie works all right, despite its lack of refinement. It's hardly one of Chaplin's top efforts, but still entertaining and worth seeing.
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worth seeing just for the drag scenes!
MartinHafer23 June 2006
I've seen quite a few Chaplin shorts from early in his career and I've noticed that his early stuff (done for Keystone Studios) is pretty dreadful stuff. Unlike his wonderful full-length films from the 20s and 30s, the films from 1914-1915 are incredibly poorly made--having no script but only vague instructions from the director. In most cases, the films had almost no plot and degenerated to people punching and kicking each other.

This movie has a very thin plot. Charlie is either working at a movie set or he sneaks in--it's not sure which. And, he makes a mess of everything until he's thrown out,...only to return in drag! The director thinks Charlie's a hot tamale and begins making passes at him/her! Actually, I was shocked just how GOOD Chaplin looked as a girl! He probably could have passed as a woman in public.

FYI--this is the second film in which Chaplin appeared in drag. It also features Fatty Arbuckle in a cameo playing, I think, himself.
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Well well...
Michael DeZubiria25 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
In The Masquerader, Chaplin sort of breaks the fourth wall, in that he appears in the film as himself, sort of, and then changes into the costume of the Tramp a few minutes into the movie. Similar to his work in Film Johnnie, Caplin creates mayhem on set during shooting and promptly gets himself fired. Just before he leaves, he throws his suitcase at his boss and some hilarious mayhem ensues.

The next day, Charlie returns dressed as a woman named Senorita Chapelino ("...a fairy floated into the studio..."). He is disturbingly convincing as a female, and of course all of the men at the studio come forward with aggressive amorous advances. Eventually, of course, Charlie is discovered, and this is followed by some of the best of those hilarious fight scenes of nearly all of Chaplin's early comedies.

As with all of these old comedies, this one is deteriorated pretty badly, but there is still some pretty good editing at the end of the film. One thing about films made during that time is that they move so fast, and this fast motion makes some of the shorter shots go by so fast that some of them are almost incomprehensible, and the editing of these films seems to have suffered from this. But at the end of The Masquerader, there is some editing that is better than usual in these early comedies, particularly in the scene where he falls into the well.

Fatty Arbuckle also appears early in the film as a fellow actor, which might be the most interesting scene in the film since Chaplin and Arbuckle play themselves, basically, as they get ready to go to work. I think The Masquerader is a bit of a milestone, as Chaplin is clearly developing the character of the Tramp as a down and out everyman just trying to turn his luck, rather than resorting to drunkenness or so much punching and kicking as in so many of his earlier films.
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A little disappointing, I guess
rbverhoef16 July 2004
I am not really sure whether I liked this Charlie Chaplin short or not. Compared to his more famous shorts from 1915 to 1918 this is not that good but since it is Chaplin I found myself smiling almost constantly.

Here he plays an actor who messes up several takes. He is fired but returns dressed up as a woman. He kind of seduces the movie's director who likes the woman.

The problem with this short is that the only real joke here is Chaplin dressed up as a woman. Of course that is fun to see, but we don't see the real Chaplin and I guess that it makes this Chaplin short a little disappointing.
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Above-average 1914 effort with reflexive film-gags and cross-dressing
OldAle116 January 2009
Watched from an old VHS tape of 5 1914 shorts, the quality on this as with the others is rather poor and there are dropouts -- not from the tape, but from the film elements -- sometimes enough so that the action is hard to follow though less so in this case than most of the others. Not that it matters a whole lot, as this is for the most part like the other shorts very simple films with lots of knockabout action, broad humor, and very little else.

"The Masquerader" might be the best of the five, with the action taking place in a film studio and Charlie as an incompetent actor -- so an early example of the self-reflexive nature of film at work here -- only to return after being canned as a beautiful, dolled up actress. Chaplin's mimicry and makeup is really quite amazing here -- he had me fooled, anyway. The film also features Fatty Arbuckle as a rival actor who at one point gives Charlie gasoline to drink! His scene with Charlie, on opposite sides of a dressing-mirror in a dressing-room, is a classic of timing and facial expressions and has the feel of improvisation.
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Three Chaplins: a slapstick version of his own career
guisreis12 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The spoiler is already present in the synopsis; therefore, don't worry that there is no additional spoiling information.

Funny! Off course this is not one of Charlie Chaplin's best films, as none of his short films for Keystone Studios (1914) or Essanay Studios (1915) is, but it is nice, possibly his best from 1914. There are two elements extremely interesting here: 1) First of all, Chaplin portrays ans actor that is a tramp-like version of himself (a lot of slapstick in spite of having his real appearance), without mustache, and the little tramp is a character played by that actor! 2) Besides that, it is impressive to see Chaplin disguised as a woman in order to charm the director. In addition, it is worth mentioning that some minutes from the film show a scene in which Chaplin acts together with comedian Fatty Arbuckle. They have been together other times (like in "The Knockout", which is much worse than "The Masquerader"), but here the partnership has a better outcome than in other situations, although not an exceptional one. This is the 10th film directed by Chaplin but only the 2nd written by him.
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Backstage humour
Igenlode Wordsmith13 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This is the first Keystone Chaplin film that I've actually found funny, and it's not just down to the Chaplin-as-woman gag. (Although, as others have pointed out, the slender Chaplin actually makes a remarkably pretty girl, and does a convincing job of acting feminine too.)

The film is interesting in its own right as a backstage look into what I assume was film-making practice of the day -- the director (a notable performance by Charles Murray) acting out his leading lady's role to indicate what he wants, the male cast sharing a dressing-room as basic as that of your average stage chorus troupe -- and was apparently shot on Keystone's own studio lots. It contains a fair amount of standard brick-throwing, arse-kicking antics but also a significant quantity of more subtly-paced and genuinely amusing material, starting with Chaplin and Arbuckle's double act in the dressing-room and ending with a truly dreadful (in the best sense) pun. 'Senorita Chapelino' sneaking a surreptitious exhalation from a puff on 'her' beau's cigarette is worth a mention too.
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Chaplin In Drag Again
CitizenCaine29 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Chaplin wrote and directed his second film, and he appears as himself with Fatty Arbuckle at Keystone studios in the opening scene before changing into costume as the tramp. He then makes time with the ladies while filming is going on, much to the dismay of the director. The director kicks Charlie to the curb only to find him getting revenge by returning to the studio dressed as a woman and initially fooling the director. Chaplin's second film where he appears as a woman is interesting because he is fairly convincing as a woman. Whether it's due to the age of the film, his height, or the expected neck to ankle dress of the period is uncertain. It doesn't matter because it maintains one's interest, although the film is uneven like most of his early efforts. Several silent stars are on hand including Mabel Normand and Charley Chase in small parts. ** of 4 stars.
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Not among C's best
Warning: Spoilers
"The Masquerader" is a 1914 short film by Charlie Chaplin and of course he also plays the main character. This one is already over 100 years old, so it should not be a surprise to anybody that it is silent and in black-and-white. And besides Chaplin, it also co-stars the very prolific, but pretty unknown Chester Conklin, a very bearded version of Chaplin not only because of the name, and of course Roscoe Arbuckle, who is still somewhat famous today, even if a bit of it is rather bad press than great achievements. I personally like him and his presence, so I am a bit disappointed he did not have a better script to work with because then this could have turned out an actually enjoyable watch. But this way, it is no such thing and I give it a thumbs down. By the way, the version I just saw ran for 12 minutes and not 9 what IMDb says, but it maybe just had fewer frames per second.
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