Charlie Chaplin

Guide to Charlie Chaplin’s Keystone Studios Movies

Guide-to-Charlie-Chaplins-Keystone-Studios
by Strauss-Peyton Studio, bromide print, circa 1920

Charlie Chaplin was an English comedian actor – who was well known for his work in the early 20th century. He started his career at an early age of nine. Being known for his work, he was offered a contract by Mack Sennett – to work for Keystone Studios. 

Keystone Studios was one of the major film studios in the early 1900s. Founded in Edendale, California, on July 4, 1912, by Mack Sennett – it was best known as the home of slapstick comedy. This studio giant rocked the silent era, for making some of the best comedy films in the market – of which Charlie Chaplin was the primary star.

During Chaplin’s days with Keystone, he appeared in a total of thirty-six films – all produced by Mack Sennett. 

The first film he ever made with them is Making a Living, which was released on February 2, 1914. It is a thirteen-minute film, where Chaplin appeared as Edgar English – a lady-charming swindler. 

This was quickly followed by his second film – Kid Auto Races at Venice. Premiered on February 7, 1914 – Chaplin appeared as the “Little Tramp” for the first time.

February 9, 1914 – Mabel’s Strange Predicament was released. In this film, Chaplin used the Tramp costume for the first time. Although it was the third film released on the list, it was filmed before Kid Auto Races at Venice.

February 19, 1914 – the film A Thief Catcher was released. For years, the film was considered lost – until a director and film historian named Paul E. Gierucki found a vintage 16mm print in 2010.

February 28, 1914 – Between Showers was released. A classical comedy, where Chaplin appeared as Masher – along with Sterling, who appeared as Rival Masher. The main story is about helping a woman cross a muddy street.

March 2, 1914 – A Film Johnnie was released. Chaplin portrayed the role of a film Johnnie – where he fell in love with the actress in the film he was playing.  

March 9, 1914 – Tango Tangles was released. In this film, Chaplin appeared without his usual costume – mustache, baggy pants, and oversized shoes. The film doesn’t have any formal script, letting Chaplin along with the actors run loose – making the film hilarious. It is also said that this film was the last time Chaplin worked along with his co-actor – Ford Sterling.

March 16, 1914 – His Favourite Pastime was released. Chaplin plays the role of a drinker in the bar. He received praises from different movie critics for his outstanding performance.

March 26, 1914 – Cruel, Cruel Love, was released. This film could be considered different from Chaplin’s earlier films. Instead of portraying the role of the Little Tramp, Chaplin appeared as an upper-class gentleman – Lord Helpus. Like the film A Thief Catcher, this film was believed lost for more than 50 years – until a nitrate copy was found in South America.

April 4, 1914 – The Star Border was released. Also known as The Landlady’s Pet, when the title was reissued in 1918. Chaplin appeared as a resident in a boarding house – where he is the favorite boarder of the landlord’s wife.

April 18, 1914 – The Mabel at the Wheel was released. Another film where Chaplin tagged along with Mabel Normand – where Chaplin gave Mabel a ride on his motorcycle. 

April 20, 1914 – Twenty Minutes of Love was released. Another silent comedy film of Chaplin – where he plays the role of a pickpocket. This is also the film where Chaplin debuted his directorial talent. Chaplin was praised for the success of the film – and was given credit for his creativity.

April 27, 1914 – Caught in a Cabaret was released. Chaplin plays a waiter who tries to impress a girl – by faking her being the Prime Minister of Greenland.

May 4, 1914 – Caught in the Rain was released. One of the films where Chaplin both directed and played the lead. In the film, Chaplin appeared as a tipsy hotel guest – where he flirts with a married lady then got him into trouble.

May 7, 1914 – A Busy Day was released – on a split-reel with an educational short film, The Morning Papers. This film expresses great talent from Chaplin. A unique concept, where Chaplin plays the role of a wife.

June 1, 1914The Fatal Mallet was released. This film was written and directed by Chaplin’s co-actor – Mack Sennett. Chaplin and Sennett appeared as rivals in the film – where they are both a suitor of Mabel.

June 4, 1914 – Her friend the Bandit, was released. Another film directed and starred by Chaplin – where he plays an elegant bandit. Until now, this film is considered as lost, and no copies were ever retrieved.

June 11, 1914 – The Knockout was released. One of the films where Chaplin appeared on a secondary role – with the Little Tramp costume. The film was released in two reels – and Chaplin didn’t appear until the second half of the film.

June 13, 1914 – Mabel’s Busy Day was released. Chaplin plays a tipsy nuisance along with Mabel – who both written and directed the film.

June 20, 1914 – Mabel’s Married Life was the 20th film released by Chaplin. Another film directed by Chaplin, where he appeared as the husband of Mabel – which is also a co-writer of the film.

July 9, 1914 – Laughing Gas was released. The film was also known in various titles – Busy Little Dentist, Down and Out, Laffing Gas, The Dentist, and Turning His Ivories. In the film, Chaplin appeared as a dentist’s assistant.

August 1, 1914 – The Property Man was released. Chaplin appeared as a Property Man. One of Chaplin’s films where a negative review was received. Moving Picture World found some part of the film is brutal – specifically the part where an old man was kicked in the face.

August 10, 1914 – The Face on the Bar Room Floor was released. The film was written and directed by Chaplin – where he appeared as an artist. This film was based on a poem with the same title by Hugh Antoine d’Arcy.

August 13, 1914 – Recreation was released. Written and directed by Chaplin – where he plays as Tramp.

August 27, 1914 – The Masquerader was released. This film was written and directed by Chaplin – He also takes the lead where he appeared as a film actor. This is the tenth film directed by Charlie Chaplin.

August 31, 1914 – His New Profession was released. Chaplin appeared as himself – where he is taking care of a man in a wheelchair. 

September 7, 1914 – The Rounders was released. Written and directed by Chaplin, he takes the lead along with his co-actor Roscoe Arbuckle – where both of them appeared as drunks who get into trouble with their wives. 

September 24, 1914 – The New Janitor was released – considered as one of the best films created by Keystone Studios. Chaplin appeared as a janitor in a bank during a bank robbery. 

October 10, 1914 – Those Love Pangs was released. Another slapstick comedy film, also known as The Rival Mashers. Chaplin plays the Masher, along with Chester Conklin, as his rival. 

October 26, 1914 – Dough and Dynamite was released. A silent film that was co-written by Mack Sennett, where Chaplin takes the lead and plays the role of Pierre – a waiter in a restaurant. 

October 29, 1914 – Gentlemen of Men was released. Another film directed by Chaplin, where he appeared as Mr. Wow-Woe – along with Mabel.

November 7, 1914 – His Musical Career was released. A slapstick comedy starred by Chaplin – where he plays as Charlie, the piano mover. The film was considered by a reviewer as ‘one of the best comedies in a month.’

November 9, 1914 – His Trysting Place was released – in two reels. The film was written and directed by Chaplin – where he once again appeared as Mabel’s husband.

November 14, 1914 – Tillie’s Punctured Romance was released. The film was based on a play, Tillie’s Nightmare by A. Baldwin Sloane and Edgar Smith. It was the first-ever film produced by Keystone Studios to have a feature-length – with a whopping seventy-four minutes running time, released in six reels. Chaplin starred the film and appeared as Charlie, the city slicker. 

December 5, 1914 – Getting Acquainted was released. Also known as A Fair Exchange – after being retitled. This film was written and directed by Chaplin, where he appeared as Mr. Sniffels – the spouse of Mrs. Sniffels.

December 7, 1914 – His Prehistoric Past was released. This slapstick comedy film was written and directed by Chaplin. This is the last film Chaplin made at Keystone Studios. The film was set in the Stone Age – where Chaplin appeared as Weak-Chin. 

Charlie Chaplin spent almost a year at Keystone Studios – where his career progressed. He is well-known as an icon of comedy films in his era and his use of 20s men’s fashion – even until today.

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