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The Star Boarder (1914)

Not Rated | | Comedy , Short | 4 April 1914 (USA)
A brat's magic lantern show exposes an indiscreet moment between a landlady and her star boarder.

Director:

George Nichols
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Cast

Cast overview:
Charles Chaplin ... The Star Boarder
Minta Durfee Minta Durfee ... Landlady
Edgar Kennedy ... Landlady's Husband
Gordon Griffith ... The Son
Alice Davenport Alice Davenport ... Landlady's Friend
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Storyline

Charlie stays at a boarding-house, where he is the landlady's favorite. Her husband grows jealous when observing this. Their little son has a camera. He happens to take some photos of his mother and Charlie in situations which are innocent but look indecent. He also takes a photo of his father and a female boarding-guest in a similar situation. In the evening the boy arranges a slide show in the boarding-house. Suddenly also the equivocal photos of his parents appear on the screen. His jealous father gets furious and starts chasing Charlie. Soon all the boarding-guests are involved in the fight. Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Short

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 April 1914 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Fatal Lantern See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Keystone Film Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Connections

Featured in Film Breaks: Charlie Chaplin (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Early Chaplin, starting to find his style
9 July 2002 | by wmorrow59See all my reviews

This is one of 35 Keystone comedies Charlie Chaplin appeared in during his first year in the movies, made just before he was granted creative control of his output. Unlike some of his earlier shorts The Star Boarder has the feel of a Chaplin film, so much so we get the impression he was already taking charge behind the scenes. The story is straightforward and easy to follow, slapstick violence is kept to a minimum, and, best of all, Charlie himself comes off as a basically likable figure. In some his other early movies he's a scoundrel, but here he's the fellow we recognize from the films he would soon create on his own.

As the title implies, Charlie is the favored lodger in his boarding house. He flirts with the landlady (Minta Durfee) who dotes on him, but their relationship seems to be chaste. The landlady's husband (Edgar Kennedy, wearing a silly mustache) is unhappy about the situation, but he has a little something going on the side, too. Their son happily snaps photos of the grown-ups in compromising situations, then reveals his work at a magic lantern show and embarrasses all parties, leading to mayhem -- rather restrained mayhem, actually, by Keystone standards. We're pleased to observe that the kid gets a good spanking, too.

Charlie is introduced in a nicely composed shot, smoking in bed and peering over the tops of his famous shoes. He isn't a bad sort here, especially compared to the obnoxious sadist he plays in some of the other Keystones. His worst transgression in The Star Boarder is a raid on the boarding house ice box, where he helps himself to some cold beer. He makes a mess and gets a little drunk, but otherwise no harm done. As for infidelity, we are given the impression that the landlady is merely fond of him, and that Charlie is being opportunistic and turning the situation to his advantage. Even when he began directing his own work Chaplin wasn't always interested in gaining audience sympathy (as when he torments his elderly assistant in The Property Man), but ultimately, of course, he came around to a warmer and more humane characterization.

The Star Boarder is a little slow to get started, but the magic lantern show finale is worth waiting for. Over all this is an enjoyable short, not terribly funny or memorable, but a fairly pleasant viewing experience, especially if you're put off by the wildly rowdy entries from Chaplin's Keystone series.


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