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The Vagabond (1916)

Charlie, the emotional violinist, flees to a gipsy camp, only to find himself playing for an abducted girl. Soon, a unique birthmark will pave the way for an unexpected rescue and a marvellous new life. But, will she forget him so easily?


Charles Chaplin




Complete credited cast:
Charles Chaplin ... Street musician
Edna Purviance ... Gypsy drudge
Eric Campbell ... Gypsy chieftain
Leo White ... Old Gypsy woman
Lloyd Bacon ... Artist
Charlotte Mineau ... Girl's mother
Albert Austin ... Trombonist
John Rand ... Trumpeter
James T. Kelley James T. Kelley ... Musician / Gypsy
Frank J. Coleman ... Musician / Gypsy


After passing the hat and taking the donations intended for German street musicians Charlie heads for the country. Here he finds and rescues a girl from a band of gypsies. The girl falls in love with an artist whose portrait is later seen in a shop by the girl's real mother. The mother and the artist arrive in a chauffeured auto and offer Charlie money for his services, money which he rejects. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Comedy | Romance


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Did You Know?


Restoration work was carried out at L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in 2013.

The Vagabond (1916) has been restored by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Lobster Films, from a nitrate print preserved at the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique.

Intertitles have been reconstructed according to the original Mutual Film intertitles and documents of the Library of Congress. See more »


Charlie loses his hat outside the bar, is seen inside wearing it, then picks it up where he lost it when he leaves. When he escapes from the gypsy, he is hatless at first, but the next shot shows the hat suddenly back in place. See more »

Alternate Versions

Musical Bars is a shortened version of The Vagabond consisting of just the opening scene where Chaplin is competing with the street band (runtime 3 mins in the Renown Pictures digitally remastered version of 2018) See more »


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

User Reviews

Charlie and the Gypsy Girl
28 February 2015 | by lugonianSee all my reviews

THE VAGABOND (Mutual Studios, 1916), directed by Charlie Chaplin, stars the legendary Charlie Chaplin in his third comedy short for the studio. With Chaplin's attempt with improving himself with each passing film, rather than the usual twenty minutes of slapstick and chases, he deftly blends humor and sentiment, a standard that would later become associated by his technique in storytelling. Rather than playing a trouble-making tramp, this time Charlie's a violin playing drifter with more human qualities than before.

The story opens in great comedy tradition as Charlie enters a bar to play his violin for the patrons. His music is drowned out by a German street band playing outside. As the band leader enters to collect money, he finds Charlie collecting the money instead. A brawl and chase ensues until the crowd loses themselves in the confusion, giving Charlie a chance to sneak away. Charlie next approaches a gypsy drudge where he plays for a gypsy girl (Edna Purviance) washing clothes. A brief cutaway of the plot shows a society matron (Charlotte Mineau), looking at an old photo of a little girl who, believed by its movie audience to have been abducted by gypsies many years ago. Now a young woman, the girl is shown to be an abused slave to the gypsy leader (Eric Campbell). Witnessing one of her brutal whippings that leaves her senseless, Charlie steps in to rescue her, leading to a wild escape down the road in a gypsy caravan. Resting in a secluded spot on a country road, Charlie, having assisted the gypsy girl with her every needs, finds himself in stiff competition when a struggling artist (Lloyd Bacon) enters the scene, inspired by the girl's beauty and uses her as a subject matter to his latest canvas painting, "The Living Shamrock."

THE VAGABOND may not be one of Chaplin's most memorable of his comedy shorts for the Mutual Studios, but it represents him here more as a comic-actor rather than a just a slapstick one. Though scripted by Chaplin himself, the story seems to have some influence to Michael Balfe opera, "The Bohemian Girl," which also involves gypsies. While THE VAGABOND could very well have become a straight dramatic story for the possible choices of a Lillian Gish and Robert Harron under D.W. Griffith's direction, instead, it's Chaplin being both Griffith and Harron, and Purviance being Gish. Because its a two-reel comedy, it leaves very little detail for plot and character development. There are moments found in the film where it looks heavily edited. Usually when comedians do drama, or mix comedy with drama, the attempt fails. Fortunately for Chaplin, his method is believable and acceptable as long as he doesn't stray too far from his usual standard of comedy. Of the Chaplin stock players, including Leo White and Frank J. Coleman, Eric Campbell, later known as "Chaplin's Goliath," stands out as the hefty villainous gypsy with the whip, while the funniest performance comes from a character playing an old white-haired gypsy hag. No screen credit is given for his or her work. If played by an actor in drag, all the funnier. And the young artist, played by Lloyd Bacon, the same Bacon who would become a notable movie director himself.

Presented on commercial television in the sixties as part of "Charlie Chaplin Theater," and unseen on public broadcasting television since the 1970s, THE VAGABOND was later resurrected a decade later on cable channels and home video. Though various editions have different underscoring, ranging from orchestration to jazz rhythm and blues, Blackhawk Video's edition consisted of reissue prints presented in theaters of the 1930s with the use of sound effects and instrumental scoring to "The Vagabond Lover" and theme scoring used for the independent feature, VANITY FAIR (Allied Pictures, 1932) starring Myrna Loy. When shown on Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: December 6, 1999) as part of its "star of the month" tribute to Charlie Chaplin, THE VAGABOND and other Mutual shorts were broadcast in restored clear visuals, new scoring and in accurate silent film speed extending the standard 22 minute short to 34 minutes. Though that's all well and good, poor scoring most of all takes away the enjoyment of the film, leaving the most preferred viewing from Blackhawk (later Republic) Home Video. Next Chaplin short: ONE A.M. (1916) (***)

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Official Sites:





None | English

Release Date:

10 July 1916 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Gipsy Life See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lone Star Corporation See more »
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Technical Specs


(restored) | | (theatrical) | (video)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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