Charlie Chaplin

Guide to Charlie Chaplin’s First National Studios Films

Guide to Charlie Chaplin's First National Studios FilmsOne good thing about Chaplin’s career was he never missed out any opportunity. Starting out as a rookie – Chaplin learned to write and direct his own films. After a profitable contract with Mutual Studios – Chaplin signed a new contract with First National Pictures, which became one of the first million-dollars deals in the history of film.

First National Pictures – formerly known as First National Exhibitors’ Circuit, Inc. – was founded in 1917. Another large theatre company in the early 1900s, until Warner Bros was granted full control of them in September 1928 – then was fully absorbed on November 4, 1929.

In First National, Chaplin debuted in producing films. Spanning five years of work with First National, Chaplin released a total of nine films – all of them are starred, produced, directed, and written by Chaplin. 

April 14, 1918A Dog’s Life was released. Chaplin’s first film in National Pictures – where he once again appeared as the Tramp. A new concept by Chaplin, where he included a dog – named Scraps – in the film.

September 29, 1918The Bond was released. Chaplin appeared as Tramp, alongside his leading lady – Edna. The film was released by Chaplin – using his own expenses – to help sell U.S. Liberty Bonds during World War I.

October 20, 1918Shoulder Arms was released. Chaplin appeared as the Doughboy, where he was in a boot camp in France – during World War I. This was Chaplin’s shortest feature film – and considered as the first feature film directed by him. 

May 15, 1919Sunnyside was released. Chaplin appeared as a farm handyman – who works in the farm during the day, and in the hotel at night. 

December 15, 1919A Day’s Pleasure was released. A film made in the Chaplin Studio. Chaplin appeared as a father, then went on an outing with his wife and kids – where things didn’t go smoothly. 

February 6, 1921The Kid was released. This was the first time Charlie directed a full-length film. The film was successful, and was the second highest grossing film in 1921 – it was considered as one of the greatest films of the silent era. The film is about an orphan boy who was found by Chaplin – the Tramp. The film is a mixture of comedy and drama, where the boy – named John – lived with Chaplin. 

September 25, 1921The Idle Class was released. In this movie, Chaplin appeared as the little Tramp. The main story took place in a golf course, where Chaplin struggled – causing mishap all-through-out the course.

April 2, 1922Pay Day was released. A film starred by Chaplin – where he appeared as a labourer. It is considered the final short-film made by Chaplin. 

February 26, 1923The Pilgrim was released. The final film made by Chaplin in First National. The film is a feature-length, with a running time of forty-six minutes – released in four reels. Also, the film is the last time Chaplin co-starred with his leading lady Edna – where Chaplin appeared as an ex-convict. This film was included as one of three films comprising The Chaplin Revue, in 1959.

Chaplin had a strong and productive term in First National. With a span of five years, he showcased his talent – and started producing his own films.

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