Edna's father wants her to marry wealthy Count He-Ha. Charlie, Edna's true love, impersonates the Count at dinner, but the real Count shows up and Charlie is thrown out. Later on Charlie ...
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Edna's father wants her to marry wealthy Count He-Ha. Charlie, Edna's true love, impersonates the Count at dinner, but the real Count shows up and Charlie is thrown out. Later on Charlie and Edna are chased by her father, The Count, and three policeman. The pursuers drive off a pier.Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A Jitney Elopement (1915) has been restored by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Lobster Films in collaboration with Film Preservation Associates, from a nitrate fine grain preserved at The Museum of Modern Art and a nitrate print preserved at the Cinemathèque Royale de Belgique.
Intertitles have been reconstructed from re-release titles of 1920's found in both 35mm and Kodascope 16mm original elements.
Scanned at L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory. See more »
The Jitney Bus
words by Edith Maida Lessing
music by Roy Ingrahm See more »
Three points of interest
In this early short comedy which Charlie Chaplin made for the Essanay company, he reworks a premise employed twice at Keystone the previous year, one which he would continue to revisit in later works: humble Charlie masquerades as a member of the nobility. His motivation varies depending on the situation, but usually he's courting a pretty girl, most often Edna Purviance. In A Jitney Elopement Charlie and Edna are secret sweethearts, but her father insists she marry a count whom he has never seen; since he hasn't seen Charlie either, the way is clear for our hero to impersonate this gentleman and win the girl. When the real count arrives the expected complications erupt. Eventually Charlie and Edna attempt to flee in a "jitney," that is, a Ford automobile which happens to belong to the count.
Even Chaplin's most ardent fans will be hard pressed to find much to enjoy in this rather uninspired short, but while watching it again recently I found three points of interest. First, there is a piece of comic business Charlie executes during a lunch with Edna and her father that is expertly rendered. While chatting away, seemingly unaware of what he's doing, Charlie slices the bread he's holding into a perfect coil, then briefly "plays" it like a concertina, i.e. one of those musical instruments that looks like a big Slinky. It's a brief gag, practically a throwaway, but beautifully performed. It also suits the moment, for Charlie is nervous, and this gives him something to do with his hands. Next, a sequence in a park shortly thereafter features a very rare instance of Edna Purviance taking part in knockabout comedy: she's sitting on a tree branch, and tumbles to the ground twice. For Mabel Normand at Keystone this would have been all in a day's work, but Edna is usually more demure, and was very seldom put in this sort of situation. Lastly, the movie concludes with an extended car chase, which is also a rarity in Chaplin's work. We almost never see Charlie at the wheel of a car. In later years he wrote in his autobiography that he didn't like chases because the player's personality is lost; on those occasions when he did employ chase sequences, they usually occur on foot. For what it's worth, the automobile chase in A Jitney Elopement is well filmed and well edited, with a cute gag or two along the way and a nice wrap-up.
Beyond these minor points, admittedly, there isn't much to see here that Chaplin didn't do better elsewhere, but for viewers interested in studying the work of this uniquely gifted comedian I'd say the "bread gag" and the chase finale make this film worth a look. And for fans of the beautiful, underrated Miss Purviance, this may be your only opportunity to see her fall out of a tree, not once but twice!
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