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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 »

Connections

Version of Carmen (1918) See more »

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User Reviews

Early Chaplin: Refining Burlesque
8 August 2005 | by CineanalystSee all my reviews

Chaplin liked Cecil B. DeMille's "Carmen"; this, I think, was his only effort devoted to parodying a sole film. I disliked DeMille's "Carmen"; neither the direction, nor narrative impressed me, and Geraldine Farrar was annoying. Edna Purviance is much easier to watch. Her caricature of Farrar's obnoxious narcissism was entertaining and rather satisfying--nearly making the experience of watching Farrar's performance worthwhile. And, Chaplin is funnier here than in any film he had done before. This, not "The Champion", "The Tramp", or "Police", is what I consider the jewel of his outturn at Essanay.

This short follows the same plot of DeMille's "Carmen", nicely condensed, absent the melodrama. And, I'm discussing the 1915 "Burlesque on Carmen", not the bastardized version Essanay created the following year, after Chaplin had left the studio. That one includes a subplot involving Ben Turpin, which pads on two more reels to the formerly 2-reel short. This, the original, preferred version is a visually coherent, appropriately photographed short (other than some jump cuts). Chaplin took the style, or look--tinting, mise-en-scène, composition and such--right out of DeMille's film. As a result, this is one of Chaplin's better-looking films from his early work. If nothing else, DeMille made some pretty pictures.

Chaplin did transform, or mature his comedy while at Essanay; although, of his Essanay films, only a few are very discernible from his Keystone shorts. You may witness a slight maturing in his other Essanay movies, but "Burlesque on Carmen" seems to introduce a radically more mature burlesque for Chaplin. And, I mean "burlesque" in two senses: first, this film is a burlesque in that it parodies another film, and, second, it may be that Chaplin learned to refine the broad, crude and frantic humor of his Keystone upbringing in the process of parodying that film. There's a clear focus here--in parodying DeMille's film, and thus we get a substantial refinement in Chaplin's style.

There are some very funny moments here, too. The swordfight, which turns into a wrestling match, is great. Chaplin continually interrupts the photoplay by breaking down the fourth wall, including winking at the camera. Another of my favorite gags is when Chaplin, looking as close to the tramp as in any part of the film, stops at a saloon before continuing with the expected storyline.


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