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The Professor (1919)

| Comedy, Short
Professor Bosco, a poor flea trainer, rents a bed in a flophouse. Before going to bed, he rallies his troops and once he has made sure his beloved fleas are settled for the night, the ... See full summary »


Charles Chaplin




Credited cast:
Charles Chaplin ... Professor Bosco


Professor Bosco, a poor flea trainer, rents a bed in a flophouse. Before going to bed, he rallies his troops and once he has made sure his beloved fleas are settled for the night, the professor prepares to sleep the sleep of the just man. Unfortunately he accidentally knocks the box off his bed and the fleas have the time of their lives pestering Bosco's neighbors. To get the escapees back in their box again, the trainer resorts to... his whip! All is back to normal one more time. But not for long, as a stray dog enters the flophouse and very unwisely opens the box, thus creating new havoc. Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Short


Did You Know?


The flea-circus routine in Chaplin's later feature Limelight was re-worked from a scene in this film. See more »


Edited into Unknown Chaplin (1983) See more »

User Reviews

Interesting work of an artist
18 September 2006 | by jluis1984See all my reviews

Five years after his 1914 debut in the short "Making a Living", comedian Charles Chaplin was already a successful movie star, an experienced director (directing 53 shorts in 5 years) and probably the most popular comedy actor of his time, and it was just the beginning of the most successful stage of his career. After creating United Artists along with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and D.W. Griffith, Chaplin found himself with enough power and influence to do practically anything he imagined, and he most certainly did.

Probably among the first ideas he put to work with this recently gained freedom, was this short that showcases an incomplete idea Chaplin had that even when it was never completed entirely, he would use the elements of this short for his first feature, "The Kid" (1921), and more famously, for his autobiographical "Limelight" (1952) almost 35 years later. "The Professor" is the story of Professor Bosco, a poor street performer who travels with his circus of trained fleas. As he arrives to a hostel to get some sleep, problems arise when his fleas begin to create havoc among the other tramps at the hostel.

"The Professor" follows the same common themes of looking for happiness in adversity and life in poverty that Chaplin was so keen to use. However, unlike the Little Tramp, professor Bosco is an old and somewhat bitter man, who is more worried about his fleas than about his own health. This probably was an attempt to make a change from the Tramp, and Chaplin is quite convincing, they don't even look like the same person. The realism of the scene (despite the comic effect of the fleas) would return in "The Kid" and it seems that Chaplin used the very same locations in both films.

As the film is incomplete, it consists of only a couple of gags, all based on pantomime showcasing Chaplin's complete domain over that technique. The most famous gag, was later used in "Limelight", when Chaplin's character Calvero (an actor), acts like a flea trainer. With the difference that in "The Professor" the fleas are supposed to be real and in "Limelight" are just part of an act, the gag is exactly the same, but that apparently subtle difference makes an enormous change in both films.

It's uncertain why suddenly Chaplin stopped working on this project (probably he felt that Professor Bosco would not be accepted by his fans), but fortunately, Chaplin kept the best of this short in his head for future projects. While this is by no means Chaplin's best short, it's charming and worth a watch not only for historical reasons. Nowadays it can be found in the "Limelight" DVD. 7/10

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None | English

Also Known As:

A professzor See more »


Box Office


$1,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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