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The Immigrant (1917)

Unrated | | Short, Comedy, Drama | 17 June 1917 (USA)
Charlie is an immigrant who endures a challenging voyage and gets into trouble as soon as he arrives in America.

Director:

Charles Chaplin

Writer:

Charles Chaplin
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Charles Chaplin ... Immigrant
Edna Purviance ... Immigrant
Eric Campbell Eric Campbell ... Head Waiter
Albert Austin Albert Austin ... Russian / Restaurant diner
Henry Bergman Henry Bergman ... Artist
Kitty Bradbury Kitty Bradbury ... Edna's mother
Frank J. Coleman Frank J. Coleman ... Bearded cheating gambler / Restaurant owner
William Gillespie William Gillespie ... Café violinist
Tom Harrington Tom Harrington ... Marriage registrar
James T. Kelley ... Shabby man in restaurant
John Rand John Rand ... Tipsy diner
Janet Sully Janet Sully ... Passenger (as Janet Milly Sully)
Loyal Underwood ... Pint-sized passenger
Tom Wilson Tom Wilson ... Gambler on ship
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Storyline

Charlie is on his way to the USA. He wins in a card game, puts the money in Edna's bag (she and her sick mother have been robbed of everything). When he retrieves a little for himself he is accused of being a thief. Edna clears his name. Later, broke, Charlie finds a coin and goes into a restaurant. There he finds Edna, whose mother has died, and asks her to join him. When he reaches for the coin to pay for their meals it is missing (it has fallen through a hole in his pocket). Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Short | Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 June 1917 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Modern Columbus See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lone Star Corporation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (restored)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

According to Kevin Brownlow's and David Gill's documentary series Unknown Chaplin (1983), the first scenes to be written and filmed take place in what became the movie's second half, in which the penniless Tramp finds a coin and goes for a meal in a restaurant, not realizing that the coin has fallen out of his pocket. It was not until later that Charles Chaplin decided the reason the Tramp was penniless was that he had just arrived on a boat from Europe, and used this notion as the basis for the first half. Edna Purviance reportedly was required to eat so many plates of beans during the many takes to complete the restaurant sequence (in character as another immigrant who falls in love with Charlie) that she became physically ill. See more »

Goofs

When the ship arrives in New York harbor, it is moving in a southward direction as indicated by the passing view of the Statue of Liberty, but a ship arriving in New York would be heading north, not south. See more »

Quotes

Edna, Immigrant: Mother has lost her money.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Henry Bergman was originally cast as the Head Waiter and extensive footage was shot before Chaplin recast the role with Eric Campbell. This unused footage appeared in the documentary series The Unknown Chaplin, along with bloopers and alternate takes from this film. A 1960s 8mm home movie release of this film was retitled "Broke" and contained most of the Restaurant sequence, from the Tramp entering the establishment, to realizing he has no money and seeing the Head Waiter beat up a non-paying customer. After the advent of sound, the film was reissued with sound effects added. See more »

Connections

Featured in Star Power: The Creation of United Artists (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

The Tramp Cometh
7 January 2004 | by hausrathmanSee all my reviews

Chaplin plays an immigrant on a ship bound for America. While on the ship, he helps a fellow immigrant, Edna Purviance, whose mother had been robbed. Chaplin meets Purviance later at a restaurant where they are spotted by an artist who hires them to be models. Chaplin uses the advance to buy a wedding license.

"The Immigrant" is generally considered to be one of Chaplin's finest shorts. That is true. It is one of his funniest. However, I do not consider it as finely-crafted on the whole as many of the other Mutual films. "The Immigrant" feels like two separate one-reelers, featuring the some of the same characters, strung together. We have a shipboard reel and a restaurant reel. The only common characters from both segments are Chaplin and Purviance. (I don't count members of the stock company who appear in both segments as different characters.) There is no overarching plot combining the segments, and the film also suffers from the lack of a consistent heavy throughout. This weak story structure hampers the overall effectiveness of the short, but doesn't detract too much from comedy. The first segment has some of the more elaborate gags, like eating dinner on the wave-tossed ship, but I prefer the more subtle humor of the second half as Chaplin tries to figure out how to avoid the wrath of his tough waiter when he discovers he doesn't have any money to pay for his meal.

Much political hay is made of Chaplin kicking the immigration officials after the ship passes the Statue of Liberty. Leftist supporters look at it as an early example of his "heroic" anti-totalitarian political sentiments, while critics take it as a nasty, early anti-American statement. I believe both groups are guilty of wrongly transposing the political sensibilities of the late-forties and early- fifties back into the teens. Robinson's excellent book "Chaplin: His Life and Art" thoroughly examines the issue and shows that Chaplin intended no political message. (Write something like that on the Chaplin newsgroup and watch people argue for months!)

Charlie, however, would have plenty of time for politics later!


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