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The Fireman (1916)

TV-G | | Short, Comedy | 12 June 1916 (USA)
Charlie is a fireman who always does everything wrong. A man talks the Fire Chief into ignoring his burning home (he wants the insurance money) unaware that his daughter (the love of the ... See full summary »

Director:

Charles Chaplin
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Charles Chaplin ... Fireman
Edna Purviance ... Girl
Lloyd Bacon ... Her Father
Eric Campbell Eric Campbell ... Fire Chief
Leo White ... Owner of the Burning House
Albert Austin Albert Austin ... Fireman
John Rand John Rand ... Fireman
James T. Kelley ... Fireman
Frank J. Coleman Frank J. Coleman ... Fireman
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Storyline

Charlie is a fireman who always does everything wrong. A man talks the Fire Chief into ignoring his burning home (he wants the insurance money) unaware that his daughter (the love of the Chief) is upstairs in the house. When the house next door catches fire its owner rouses Charlie who rouses the force. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Comedy

Certificate:

TV-G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 June 1916 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Gallant Fireman See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lone Star Corporation 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

At one point, Edna Purviance is clearly seen turning to the camera and saying either the word "bastard" or "beast", right before ascending a flight of stairs. See more »

Alternate Versions

Kino International distributes a set of videos containing all the 12 Mutual short films made by Chaplin in 1915 - 1917. They are presented by David Shepard, who copyrighted the versions in 1984, and has a music soundtrack composed and performed by Michael Mortilla who copyrighted his score in 1989. The running time of this film is 24 minutes. See more »

Connections

Featured in Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Some nice ideas but not enough laughs
14 August 2012 | by tgoodersonSee all my reviews

A Fire Chief (Eric Campbell) is approached by a man (Lloyd Bacon) who asks that the Fire Department ignores a fire at his house so that he may collect the insurance money. The man insures that his daughter (Edna Purviance) is out during the fire so remains unharmed. The woman is not out though when an arsonist sets the property alight and she gets trapped upstairs. Meanwhile the Firemen which include accident prone Charlie Chaplin are at another house, putting out a fire. When the man realises his daughter is trapped he searches for them, finding Chaplin who attempts to save the day and win the woman's heart.

Amazingly The Fireman was Chaplin's 52nd film but was released in June 1916. Despite his age and lack of years in the industry he was by now a pro and it shows here with clever gags and a nice central idea. Unfortunately the film suffers from a similar problem as The Floorwalker in that it just isn't quite funny enough.

Although not awash with comedy there are some excellent comic turns to be found. A particular highlight of mine was the dual use of the fire engine as a means of putting out fire and as an over-sized coffee machine. The gag works very well visually and adds a little bit of surrealism which I always like to see. Another laugh comes when Chaplin falls backwards on to a man who is kneeling down, scrubbing a floor. The weight of Chaplin on his back sends the man's head straight into a bucket of water. As well as these sight gags there are the little touches which can often go unnoticed. Chaplin had a habit of using a recurring gag where by he would trip and doff his hat to the curb. Here as a Fireman he salutes. It's a nice in joke and twist on one of his favourites.

One interesting point about the film is that it shows a near deserted area of Los Angeles. It's incredible to see footage of the metropolis less than a hundred years ago and compare it to today. There are few streets and fewer houses and just one vehicle in the background of one shot. To me a lot of Chaplin's location work is fascinating for its background detail as well as its focus.

Another aspect of the film which I enjoyed was the reversing of film to create some odd looking and humorous scenes. The film is reversed to create the effect of Chaplin sliding up a Fireman's pole (in the literal sense) and is also used on a couple of occasions to create images of horses walking backwards which looks very odd indeed. This is another example of Chaplin's ever expanding inventiveness. Because of this and other clever ideas it's a shame that he resorts to so much that even by 1916 was tired and well used. The kick up the backside gag is repeated here several times and although it's Chaplin on the receiving end it does feel a little overdone. The plot itself feels fairly formulaic and very similar to previous films.

Despite the problems with the movie such as tired plot and jack of jokes it ends on a high. The final scene is exciting and sweet and brings the proceedings to a pleasant close. Chaplin's climbing and acrobatics are excellent and even though he has an obviously fake Edna Purviance on his back, the stunts are still impressive. Despite being his second Mutual film it still feels as though Chaplin was finding his feet with the company and though exploring new ideas was relying too heavily on safe material.

www.attheback.blogspot.com


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