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A Burlesque on Carmen (1915)

Passed | | Short, Comedy | 18 December 1915 (USA)
A gypsy seductress is sent to sway a goofy officer to allow a smuggling run.

Directors:

Charles Chaplin (uncredited), Leo White (uncredited)

Writer:

Prosper Mérimée (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Charles Chaplin ... Officer Darn Hosiery (as Charlie Chaplin)
Edna Purviance ... Carmen - the Gypsy
Ben Turpin ... Remendados - The Smuggler
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Peter Sellers ... Narrator 1951 UK Sound Version
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Storyline

This is a parody of two "Carmen"s, Bizet's opera and a movie (1915) starring Geraldine Farrar. Smugglers come ashore. Their leader sends the gypsy Carmen to lure Don Jose (called Darn Hosiery) away so they can get the contraband to town. There are grand swordfights, deaths, returns to life. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

YOU'LL SHAKE! SHIVER! SHOUT WITH LAUGHTER!

Genres:

Short | Comedy

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 December 1915 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Charlie Chaplin's Burlesque on Carmen See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(re-release) | (original) | (2014 restoration)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles Chaplin's two-reel version of this film, his final release for the Essanay Company, premiered in December 1915. After Chaplin left the studio, Essanay expanded the film, adding new scenes with Ben Turpin and Wesley Ruggles as gypsies, reinserting outtakes Chaplin had discarded and even splicing in multiple takes of scenes already included. Essanay's four-reel "feature" was released in April 1916. Chaplin was furious and filed a lawsuit against his former employers, but Essanay won the case in court. Prints of Essanay's version circulated for decades. In the 1990s an approximation of Chaplin's original version was at long last reconstructed by Kino Video. See more »

Goofs

After Hosiery plucks the banknotes from Pastia, the latter is seen walking away with at least one note left behind his sash, but when he returns to his group it is gone. See more »

Alternate Versions

The 1920 re-issue had new titles and some different character names. See more »

Connections

Version of Carmen di Trastevere (1962) See more »

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User Reviews

Works Pretty Well
27 July 2004 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

This combination of Charlie Chaplin's familiar slapstick and mannerisms with some of the plot ideas from "Carmen" works pretty well. Although Chaplin retains many of the features of his usual screen persona, playing even a parody version of Don José is still a change-of-pace that he handles well. Edna Purviance combines enough of the expected Carmen character with her own style that so often complemented Chaplin in numerous successful comedies.

Note that, of the two "Burlesque on Carmen" titles that list Chaplin in the cast, this (the 1915 filming) is the one to see for Chaplin fans. The 1916 release was created when someone apparently decided that it might be a good idea to take this perfectly good original and pad it with a lot of extraneous, non-Chaplin footage to produce a much longer movie.

Parody is an inherently fragile genre. For it to produce anything of lasting value, the source material has to be both familiar and worthwhile, and then the adaptation has to be clever without forcing too many artificial parallels. Many parodies are over-praised upon their release, enjoy a vogue while their source material remains popular, and then fall into deserved obscurity.

The story of "Carmen", though, has a timeless combination of themes, and yet it is not at all stuffy or highbrow. While the original classic is now, unfortunately, less widely-known than it was in Chaplin's day, the material itself is still far more worthwhile than are the pop culture elements that are used as fodder for many parody films of the present era. While by no means one of his very finest efforts, Chaplin's "Burlesque on Carmen" is an enjoyable comic adaptation of the basic story, and for that reason it will always retain an appreciative, if small, audience.


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