Director and/or star of many of the greatest films ever made including The Great Dictator (2:05:16) [Globe scene and the eternally goosebump providing Final speech ], The Immigrant (20:01), The Gold Rush (1:11:49), City Lights (1:22:40), Modern Times (1:27:01), and Monsieur Verdoux (1:59:03), Charlie Chaplin’s movies have entered the public domain in most countries. Below the fold is an annotated list of all 82 of his official short and feature films in chronological order, as well as several more, with links to where you can watch them; it’s not like you had work to do right?
Keystone Pictures, where Chaplin got his start in the film industry
“I wanted everything to be a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large … I added a small moustache, which, I reasoned, would add age without hiding my expression. I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the makeup made me feel the person he was. I began to know him, and by the time I walked on stage he was fully born.”
Making a Living (8:51) Released February 2, 1914. The first film starring Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin plays Edgar English, a lady-charming swindler who runs afoul of the Keystone Kops. Chaplin wore a large moustache and a top hat in this film, he also carries a walking cane. Whilst not “the tramp” the character is somewhat reminiscent of the tramp, having hat, cane, moustache and baggy trousers; his famed screen persona of “The Little Tramp” did not appear until his next film.
Kids Auto Race At Venice (5:59) Released February 7, 1914. Made by Keystone Studios and directed by Henry Lehrman, in it Chaplin plays a spectator at a ‘baby-cart race’ in California. The spectator keeps getting in the way of the camera and interferes with the race, causing great frustration to the public and participants. The film was shot during the Junior Vanderbilt Cup, an actual race with Chaplin and his co-stars improvising gags in front of real-life spectators. Unusually the camera “comes out of shot” to show a second camera filming (as though it were the first), to better explain the joke. At this stage Chaplin only gets in the way of the visible camera on screen, not the actual filming camera. In so doing it takes on a spectator’s viewpoint and becomes one of the first public films to show the film camera and cameraman in operation.
Mabel’s Strange Predicament (10:23) Released February 9, 1914. In a hotel lobby a heavily drunk Charlie runs into an elegant lady, Mabel, gets tied up in her dog’s leash, and falls down. He later runs into her in the hotel corridor, locked out of her room. They run through various rooms. Mabel ends up in one of an elderly husband where she hides under the bed. Enters the jealous wife, soon attacking Mabel, her husband, and Mabel’s lover, not to mention the staggeringly drunken Tramp.
A Theif Catcher (6:01) Released February 19, 1914. Stars Charlie Chaplin as the theif catcher, the film was believed lost and Chaplin’s appearance unknown until a vintage 16mm print was discovered by director and film historian Paul E. Gierucki in 2010 at a Michigan antique sale.
Between Showers (9:00) Released February 28, 1914. Chaplin and Sterling play two young men, Masher and Rival Masher, who fight over the chance to help a young woman (Clifton) cross a muddy street. Sterling first sees the woman trying to cross and offers her an umbrella he stole from a policeman, and asked her to wait for him as he goes to get something to help her. Then Chaplin comes along and offers the woman to help her cross as well and wait for his return. While Sterling and Chaplin go to get the logs, a policeman (Conklin) lifts the woman across the street. When Sterling returns with the log, he was indignant that the woman did not wait for him to come back to help her cross the muddy street, and demands the umbrella back. When the woman refused, they engage in a fight which eventually involves Chaplin.
A Film Johnnie (11:27) Released March 2, 1914. Charlie goes to the movie and falls in love with a girl on the screen. He goes to Keystone Studios to find her. He disrupts the shooting of a film, and a fire breaks out. Charlie is blamed, gets squirted with a firehose, and is shoved by the female star.
Tango Tangles (9:39) Released March 9, 1914. Chaplin appears with no moustache. The action takes place in a dance hall, with a drunken Chaplin, Ford Sterling, and the huge, menacing, and acrobatic Arbuckle fighting over a girl.
His Favorite Pastime (13:25) Released March 16, 1914. Charlie gets drunk in the bar. He steps outside, meets a pretty woman, tries to flirt with her, only to retreat after the woman’s father returns. Returning to the bar, Charlie drinks some more and engages in rogue behaviors with others. He finally leaves the bar, sees the woman leaving, follows the woman home, and proceeds to make a nuisance of himself, eventually getting kicked out of the house. Editors note: Old-timey Trigger Warning, about as bad as it sounds.
Cruel, Cruel Love (8:58) Released March 26, 1914. This early Chaplin film has him playing a character quite different from the Tramp for which he would become famous. He is a rich, upper-class gentleman whose romance is endangered when his girlfriend oversees him being embraced by a maid. Chaplin’s romantic interest in this film, Minta Durfee, was the wife of fellow Keystone actor, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle.
The Star Boarder (12:37) Released April 4, 1914. Chaplin is the favorite of his landlady, and the other boarders are jealous.
Mabel at the Wheel (14:38) Released April 18, 1914. Charlie, competing with his rival’s race car, offers Mabel a ride on his motorcycle but drops her in a puddle. He also kidnaps his rival before the race. But Mabel decides to take the wheels in his place, thus causing a threat to Charlie. As the race progresses, despite a very late start, Mabel manages to gain a lead of three laps. Charlie with his henchmen, tries to sabotage the race by using oil and bombs on the track. They seem to succeed for a while, but their dirty tricks were not enough to stop the high-spirited Mabel from winning the race.
Twenty Minutes of Love (10:00) Released April 20, 1914. Charlie is hanging around in the park, finding problems with a jealous suitor, a man who thinks that Charlie has robbed him a watch, a policeman and even a little boy, all because our friend can’t stop snooping.
Caught in a Cabaret (15:47) Released April 27, 1914. Chaplin plays a waiter who fakes being a Greek Ambassador to impress a girl. He then is invited to a garden party where he gets in trouble with the girl’s jealous boyfriend. Mabel Normand wrote and directed comedies before Chaplin and mentored her young co-star.
Caught in the Rain (10:24) Released May 4, 1914. When a married couple become separated in the park, Charlie takes up with the lady and is beat up when her husband rejoins her. He takes a room in their hotel, and she sleepwalks into his room so that when her husband returns from his walk he must go out again to look for her. Charlie returns the lady to her room but must climb out onto the window ledge in a downpour.
A Busy Day (6:04) Released May 7, 1914. A wife becomes jealous of her husband’s interest in another woman. On her way to attack the couple, the wife interrupts the set of a film, knocking over a film director and a police officer. Finally, the husband pushes the wife off of a pier and she falls into the harbor. Editor’s note: The wife is identified as a militant suffragette and mocked throughout, but appears to pack a satisfyingly mean punch.
The Fatal Mallet (9:47) Released June 1, 1914. Three men will fight for the love of a charming girl. Charlie and one suitor teams up against the third, and play dirty, throwing bricks and using a mallet. However, Charlie double-crosses his partner, thus losing his trust and the girl in the end. The film was written and directed by Mack Sennett, who also portrays one of Chaplin’s rivals for Normand’s attention, Sennett and Normand were offscreen lovers during this period.
Her Friend the Bandit (~16 minutes) Released June 4, 1914. This is Chaplin’s only known that remains lost. It starred Chaplin as the Bandit, Mabel Normand as Miss De Rock, and Charles Murray as Count De Beans and was aclaimed by newspaper critics.
The Knockout (23:59) Released June 11, 1914. Chaplin only has a small role, and Fatty Arbuckle takes up the main role (it is one of only a few films in which Chaplin’s Little Tramp character appears in a secondary role; Chaplin doesn’t even appear until the second half of the film). It also stars Arbuckle’s wife, Minta Durfee, Edgar Kennedy and Keystone owner, Mack Sennett in a minor role as a spectator.
Mabel’s Busy Day (9:35) Released June 13, 1914. Mabel (Mabel Normand) tries to sell hot dogs at a car race, but isn’t doing a very good job at it. She sets down the box of hot dogs and leaves them for a moment. Charlie (Charles Chaplin) finds them and gives them away to the hungry spectators at the track as Mabel frantically tries to find her lost box of hot dogs. Mabel finds out that Charlie has stolen them and sends the police after him. Chaos ensues.
Mabel’s Married Life (14:40) Released June 20, 1914 Mabel goes home after being humiliated by a masher whom her husband won’t fight. The husband goes off to a bar and gets drunk. Note the banana that Charlie eats at the beginning, it is of the Gros Michel cultivar that is no longer commonly available having been replaced by the Cavendish cultivar after the outbreak of Panama Disease made commercial production impossible. Editors note: Old-timey Trigger Warning, about as bad as it sounds.
Laughing Gas (13:30) Released July 9, 1914. Although only a dental assistant, Charlie pretends to be the dentist. After receiving too much anesthesia, a patient can’t stop laughing, so Charlie knocks him out with a club. Charlie is then sent to the drug store by the dentist, gets in a fight with a man who receives a brick in the face, thus becoming another dental patient. He also pulls the skirt off of the dentist’s wife while she is outside walking. At one point Charlie pulls the wrong tooth from an unfortunate patient, using over sized pliers.
The Property Man (18:24) Released August 1, 1914. Charlie is in charge of stage “props” and has trouble with actors’ luggage and conflicts over who gets the star’s dressing room. Small caricatures on the wall indicate both the stars and the head of what can only be Charlie Chaplin with the word “PROPS” below. Once the dressing-room issue is resolved the next issue is getting everyone on stage with the correct backdrop. The order of performance, all of which we see is: The “Goo-Goo Sisters”, billed as comediennes; two young girls dancing “Garlico” and his Feets of Strength (sic); a strong-man aided by his beautiful assistant who gets knocked out just before she goes on stage, allowing Charlie to step in. “Sorrow” a drama performed by a man and woman. During the performances we see the audience reaction throughout, ranging from delight to booing. Backstage Charlie and an old man fight, often distrupting the on-stage performances. The audience also break into a fight, and a hose brought out behind the scenes ends up squirted over them.
The Face on the Bar Room Floor (11:37) Released August 10, 1914 A painter turned tramp, devastated by losing the woman he was courting as a wealthy man, finds himself drunk and getting drunker by the minute with some sailors at a bar until he’s literally falling down. He keeps futilely trying to draw the woman’s picture on the floor with a piece of chalk until he finally passes out cold (or perhaps dies, as in the poem) at the end of the film. Chaplin stars in this film, loosely based on the poem of the same name by Hugh Antoine d’Arcy.
Recreation (6:29) Released August 13, 1914 Charlie is walking in the park. A girl leaves a seaman on one bench and joins Charlie on another. The seaman wakes up. He and Charlie stage a brick fight. Policemen get hit and arrest both men. During an ensuing fight on the dock the policemen, the seaman, Charlie and the girl wind up in the water.
The Masquerader (9:12) Released August 27, 1914 Charlie plays an actor who bungles several scenes and is kicked out. He returns convincingly dressed as a lady and charms the director, but Charlie never makes it into the film. The plot involving a man dressing up as a woman is quite popular in old silent movies.
The Good for Nothing, aka His New Profession (13:42) Released August 31, 1914 Charlie meets a couple and agrees to care for the man’s crippled uncle. After the couple breaks up the man’s new girl drops some eggs which Charlie slips on while trying to control the wheelchair. Charlie sets up the uncle near another wheelchair on a jetty, from which he lifts a beggar’s cup and “invalid” sign. These he places with the uncle, and money begins to roll in. Charlie takes the money and buys himself a drink. Returning, he gets to know the abandoned young woman. After pushing the uncle and his chair into the drink and battling the beggar and two policemen (one of whom arrests the uncle), Charlie beats up his rival and gets the girl.
The Rounders (9:35) Released September 7, 1914. Two drunks live in the same hotel. One beats his wife, the other is beaten by his. They go off and get drunk together. They try to sleep in a restaurant using tables as beds and are thrown out. They lie down in a row boat which fills with water, drowning them (a fate apparently better than going home to their wives).
The New Janitor (10:59) Released September 14, 1914. The hero, a janitor played by Chaplin, is fired from work for accidentally knocking his bucket of water out the window and onto his boss the chief banker (Tandy). Meanwhile, one of the junior managers (Dillon) is being threatened with exposure by his bookie for gambling debts unpaid. Thus the manager decides to steal from the company. He is caught in the act of raiding the vault by the bank secretary (Carruthers) who rings the downstairs for help. Chaplin comes to the rescue only to be misjudged by the Chief Banker as the thief. The Secretary fingers the manager and Charlie receives a just reward and a handshake for foiling the robbery.
The Rival Mashers, aka Those Love Pangs (12:09) Released October 10, 1914 Charlie and a rival vie for the favors of their landlady. In the park they each fall different girls, though Charlie’s has a male friend already. Charlie considers suicide, is talked out of it by a policeman, and later throws his girl’s friend into the lake. Frightened, the girls go off to a movie. Charlie shows up there and flirts with them. Later both rivals substitute themselves for the girls and attack the unwitting Charlie. In an audience-wide fight, Charlie is tossed from the screen.
Dough and Dynamite (12:23) Released October 26, 1914 The story involves Chaplin and Chester Conklin working as waiters at a restaurant where the cooks go on strike. When the two are forced to work as bakers, the striking cooks put dynamite in the dough, with explosive results.
Gentlemen of Nerve (10:03) Released October 29, 1914. Mabel and her beau go to an auto race and are joined by Charlie and his friend. As Charlie’s friend is attempting to enter the raceway through a hole, the friend gets stuck and a policeman shows up.
Musical Tramp, aka His Musical Career (11:27) Released November 7, 1914. Charlie and his partner are to deliver a piano to 666 Prospect St. and repossess one from 999 Prospect St.
His Trysting Place (15:57) Released November 9, 1914 Charlie and his friend Ambrose meet in a restaurant and accidentally leave with each other’s coats. Charlie was going to pick up a baby bottle and Ambrose was going to mail a love letter that was in his coat pocket. Charlie’s wife finds the letter and thinks he has a secret lover and Ambrose’s wife believes he has an illegitimate child. Controversy arises in the park between Charlie and his wife and Ambrose and his wife. It is resolved at the end, but Charlie sparks another fight between the other couple by showing his friend’s wife the love letter that was in his pocket.
Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1:11:32) Released November 14, 1914. The first feature-length comedy film from Keystone Film Company and the Christie Film Company, produced in 1914. A silent film directed by Mack Sennett, the film stars Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand, Charles Chaplin, and the Keystone Cops. The film is based on Dressler’s stage play Tillie’s Nightmare. It is notable as being the last Chaplin film which he did not write nor direct himself. Chaplin also plays an utterly different role from his recently created Tramp character in this movie. Chaplin portrays a womanizing city man who meets Tillie (Dressler) in the country after a fight with his girlfriend (Normand). When he sees that Tillie’s father has a very large bankroll for his workers, he persuades her to elope with him. In the city, he meets the woman he was seeing already, and tries to work around the complication to steal Tillie’s money. He gets Tillie drunk in a restaurant and asks her to let him hold the pocketbook. Since she is drunk, she agrees, and he escapes with his old girlfriend and the money. Later that day, they see a picture show entitled “A Thief’s Fate,” which illustrates their thievery in the form of a morality play. They both feel guilty and leave the theatre. While sitting on a park bench, a paperboy asks him to buy a newspaper. He does so, and reads the story about Tillie’s Uncle Banks, a millionaire who died while on a mountain-climbing expedition. Tillie is named sole heir and inherits three million dollars. The man leaves his girlfriend on the park bench and runs to the restaurant, where Tillie is now forced to work to support herself, as she is too embarrassed to go home. He begs her to take him back and marries her. Although she is skeptical at first, she believes that he truly loves her. They move into the uncle’s mansion and throw a big party, which ends horribly when Tillie finds her husband with his old girlfriend, smuggled into the house and working as one of their maids. The uncle is found on a mountaintop, and didn’t die after all. He goes back to his mansion, which was in disarray after Tillie instigated a gunfight (a direct result of the husband smuggling the old girlfriend into the house) which, luckily, didn’t harm anyone. Uncle Banks insists that Tillie be arrested for the damage she has caused to his house. The three run from the cops all the way to a dock, where a car “bumps” Tillie into the water. She flails about, hoping to be rescued. She is eventually pulled to safety, and both Tillie and the man’s girlfriend realize that they are too good for him. He leaves, and the two girls become friends.
Getting Acquainted (13:06) Released December 5, 1914. Charlie and his wife are walking in the park when they encounter Ambrose and his wife where they become attracted to each other’s wife and start chasing them around the park. The policeman is looking for a masher.
His Prehistoric Past (12:01) Released December 7, 1914. Set in the stone age, King Low-Brow rules the land and a harem of wives. When Charlie arrives in this land (where every man has one thousand wives), he falls in love with the King’s favorite wife. When the King falls over a cliff, he is presumed dead and Charlie crowns himself King. The King, however, is not dead and comes back and bashes Charlie over the head with a rock. It turns out it was a dream and a police man bashed Charlie over the head with his club because he was sleeping in the park.
Essanay Film Manufacturing Company then hired Chaplin, who had made a name for himself at the unheard of sum of $1,250 a week with a signing bonus of $10,000.
“All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.”
His New Job (20:34) Released February 1, 1915. When one of the actors on a movie set doesn’t show up, Charlie gets his chance to be on camera and replaces the actor. While waiting, he plays in a dice game and gets on many people’s nerves. When he finally gets to act, he ruins his scene, accidentally destroys the set, and tears the skirt of the star of the movie.
A Night Out (16:38) Released February 15, 1915. Charlie and Ben pay a visit to a pub, then decide to visit a swanky restaurant. Now intoxicated, they come into conflict with a French dandy and his ladyfriend. The large head waiter violently ejects Ben, and later ejects Charlie also. The pair pay another visit to a pub, then make their way to their hotel. They become interested in a pretty young woman staying in the room across the hall, but when Charlie spies on her through the keyhole a bellboy makes him stop. Charlie is taken aback to realize that the young woman’s husband is the head waiter from the restaurant. He promptly checks out and moves to another hotel. Meanwhile, the head waiter and his wife, dissatisfied with the service, also decide to move to another hotel– and, unfortunately, choose the same one Charlie has chosen, and once more wind up in the room across the hall from him. When the young woman’s dog runs into Charlie’s room she follows in her pajamas…
The Champion (30:50) Released March 11, 1915. Walking along with his bulldog, Charlie finds a “good luck” horseshoe just as he passes a training camp advertising for a boxing partner “who can take a beating.” After watching others lose, Charlie puts the horseshoe in his glove and wins. The trainer prepares Charlie to fight the world champion. A gambler wants Charlie to throw the fight. He and the trainer’s daughter fall in love.
In the Park (12:21) Released March 18, 1915. A tramp steals a girl’s handbag, but when he tries to pick Charlie’s pocket loses his cigarettes and matches. He rescues a hot dog man from a thug, but takes a few with his walking stick. When the thief tries to take some of Charlie’s sausages, Charlie gets the handbag. The handbag makes its way from person to person to its owner, who is angry with her boyfriend who didn’t protect her in the first place. The boyfriend decides to throw himself in the lake in despair, so Charlie helps him out.
A Jitney Elopement (26:19) Released April 1, 1915. Edna’s father wants her to marry wealthy Count He-Ha. Charlie, Edna’s true love, impersonates the Count at dinner, but the real Count shows up and Charlie is thrown out. Later on Charlie and Edna are chased by her father, The Count, and three policeman. The pursuers drive off a pier.
The Tramp (29:43) Released April 11, 1915. The Tramp, Chaplin, finds the girl of his dreams and works on a family farm. He helps defend the farm against criminals, and all seems well, until he discovers the girl of his dreams already has a boyfriend. Unwilling to be a problem in their lives, he takes to the road, though he is seen skipping and swinging his cane as if happy to be back on the road where he knows he belongs.
By the Sea (9:29) Released April 29, 1915. It is windy at a bathing resort. After fighting with one of the two husbands, Charlie approaches Edna while the two husbands themselves fight over ice cream. Driven away by her husband, Charlie turns to the other’s wife.
Work (22:18) Released June 21, 1915. Charlie and his boss have difficulties just getting to the house they are going to wallpaper. The householder is angry because he can’t get breakfast and his wife is screaming at the maid as they arrive. The kitchen gas stove explodes, and Charlie offers to fix it. The wife’s secret lover arrives and is passed off as the workers’ supervisor, but the husband doesn’t buy this and fires shots. The stove explodes violently, destroying the house.
A Woman (41:08) Released July 12, 1915. Mother, Father and Daughter go to the park. The women dose off on a bench while the father plays a hide-and-seek game with a girl, blindfolded. Charlie leads him into a lake. Both dozing ladies on the bench fall for Charlie and invite him for dinner. The father returns home with a friend. Charlie rushes upstairs and dresses like a woman, shaving his moustache. Both men fall for Charlie.
The Bank (14:33) Released August 9, 1915. Charlie does everything but an efficient job as janitor. Edna buys her fiance, the cashier, a birthday present. Charlie thinks “To Charles with Love” is for him. He presents her a rose which she throws in the garbage. Depressed, Charlie dreams of a bank robbery and his heroic role in saving he manager and Edna … but it is only a dream. There doesn’t appear to be any evidence that this film was received any differently from the bulk of Chaplin’s early work, but today this film is often considered one of his most fascinating efforts.
Charlie Shanghaied (23:11) Released October 4, 1915. A shipowner intends to scuttle his ship on its last voyage to get the insurance money. Charlie, a tramp in love with the owner’s daughter, is grabbed by the captain and promises to help him shanghai some seamen. The daughter stows away to follow Charlie. Charlie assists in the galley and attempts to serve food during a gale.
A Night in the Show (18:04) Released November 20, 1915. Mr. Pest tries several theatre seats before winding up in front in a fight with the conductor. He is thrown out. In the lobby he pushes a fat lady into a fountain and returns to sit down by Edna. Mr. Rowdy, in the gallery, pours beer down on Mr. Pest and Edna. He attacks patrons, a harem dancer, the singers Dot and Dash, and a fire-eater.
Burlesque on Carmen (43:43) Released December 18, 1915. This is the original two-reel parody of Bizet’s Carmen by Chaplin. Darn Hosiery, a goofy Spanish officer, is seduced by the gypsy girl Carmen, leading to disgrace and downfall.
Police (8:45) Released May 27, 1916. Charlie is released from prison and immediately swindled by a fake parson. A fellow ex-convict convinces Charlie to help burglarize a house, but Edna, the house’s owner, catches them and calls the police. Charlie, however, manages to charm his way out of trouble …. at least for the moment.
Triple Trouble (27:24) Released August 11, 1918. As Colonel Nutt is experimenting with explosives, a new janitor is joining his household. The inept janitor proceeds to make life difficult for the rest of staff. Meanwhile, a foreign agent arrives at the house in hopes of getting Col. Nutt’s latest invention. The inventor throws him out, so the agent then employs a thug to get the formula. When police head to the Nutt home to start an investigation, a complicated fracas ensues. This film was not an official Chaplin film, even though it has many Chaplin directed scenes; it was edited together out of outtakes and newly shot footage by the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, with Leo White as director for the new scenes. Since Chaplin did not have legal control over the films made during his time with Essanay, he could not prevent its release.
Mutual Film Corporation
“Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.”
The Floorwalker (31:10) Released May 15, 1916. After causing havoc on the sales floor Charlie goes to the office floor. There he runs into the store inspector (who looks exactly like him) who has just robbed the safe and knocked out the manager. Charlie thinks he is in front of a mirror till he notices he holds a stock and his “image” the bag of loot.
The Fireman (15:47) Released June 12, 1916. Charlie is a fireman who always does everything wrong. A man talks the Fire Chief into ignoring his burning home (he wants the insurance money) unaware that his daughter (the love of the Chief) is upstairs in the house. When the house next door catches fire its owner rouses Charlie who rouses the force.
The Vagabond (25:53) Released July 10, 1916. 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.
One A.M. (16:49) Released August 7, 1916. A one-man mime show. Charlie comes home drunk. Forgetting his key, he climbs in through the window, climbs back out with the key, and goes through the door. The rest are equilibrium gags, the central one being with his collapsible wall-bed.
The Count (20:11) Released September 4, 1916. Charlie burns a count’s trousers while ironing them and is fired. The tailor finds an invitation to dinner at Miss Moneybags and goes in place of the count. Charlie goes to the kitchen of the same house; he is attracted to the cook, and so are the butler and a policeman. Once discovered by the tailor-count, Charlie must pretend to be the count’s secretary. The real count shows up.
The Pawnshop (20:22) Released October 2, 1916. Charlie competes with his fellow shop assistant. He is fired by the pawnbroker and rehired. He nearly destroys everything in the shop and and himself. He helps capture a burglar. He destroys a client’s clock while examining it in detail.
Behind the Screen (19:54) Released November 13, 1916. Three movies are being shot simultaneously and Charlie is an overworked scene shifter. The foreman is waited on hand and foot until all the shifters but Charlie go on strike. A girl looking for work pretends to be a man and helps Charlie. Charlie discovers her gender and falls in love with her. The foreman thinks they are homosexual and in the ensuing fight they become involved in a long pie throwing scene from one of the movies in production. The frustrated workers dynamite the studio. The film is significant to the history of homosexuality in the cinema, as it contains a joke about the subject, which was relatively unusual at the time. After Chaplin learns that Purviance is really a woman, he kisses her while on the set; at this point, a male stagehand enters and, thinking that Chaplin has kissed a man, starts acting in an overtly effeminate way until Chaplin kicks him.
The Rink (23:37) Released December 4, 1916. After amusements working in a restaurant, Charlie uses his lunch break to go roller skating. Mr. Stout makes advances toward the unwilling Edna (whose father and Mrs. Stout had earlier carried on in the restaurant). After a roller skate ballet, Charlie (now as Sir Cecil Seltzer) is invited to a party at Edna’s. All the “couples”, including a new partner for Mr. Stout. show up.
Easy Street (23:26) Released January 22, 1917. When Charlie the Tramp wanders into a mission he is smitten by Edna and puts back the collection box which he has taken. Reformed, he becomes a policeman and is assigned to rough-and-tumble Easy Street. Unable to trick or beat Eric the Tough, he puts Eric’s head in a gas pipe and anesthetizes him. A hero, he now helps many poor people living on Easy Street. Eric escapes jail, Edna is kidnapped, but Charlie (recharged after sitting on a doper’s needle) conquers all. Easy Street is transformed as is Eric.
The Cure (19:08) Released April 16, 1917. Charlie goes to a spa to dry out, but he takes a trunk of liquor with him. He tangles with another’s gouty foot in a revolving door. Later he thinks the gouty man is making love signs to him (he doesn’t Edna, the real object of the man’s efforts), so he signs back. He interpets a massage to be a wrestling match. When management throws his liquor into the fountain, when flow the healthful waters, everyone gets drunk.
The Immigrant (20:01) Released June 17, 1917. 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).
The Adventurer (18:59) Released October 22, 1917. Charlie escapes from prison. After rescuing a girl and her mother from drowning, Charlie is invited to their home where a big party is held and he is treated like a hero. However, as a result Charlie’s photo is printed in the newspapers and the prison guards come after him.
First National Films
“It is paradoxical that tragedy stimulates the spirit of ridicule…ridicule, I suppose, is an attitude of defiance; we must laugh in the face of our helplessness against the forces of nature – or go insane.”
A Dog’s Life (35:18) Released April 14, 1918. Poor Charlie lives in a vacant lot. He tries to get a job but when he gets to the head of the employment line the jobs are gone. Back “home” he rescues Scraps, a bitch being attacked by other strays. Together they manage to steal some sausages from a lunch wagon. They enter a dance hall where Edna is a singer and unwilling companion to the clientele. He is thrown out when he can’t pay. Back “home” Scraps digs up a money-filled wallet buried by crooks. They return to the dance hall to find Edna fired. The wallet goes back and forth between Charlie and the crooks. Charlie, Edna and Scraps end up very happily.
The Bond (10:52) Released September 29, 1918. Half-reel made for the Liberty Loan Committee and distributed free throughout the country. The actors show that bonds of friendship, love and marriage are inspiring but the most important bonds of all are Liberty Bonds, the blockbuster which will knock out the Kaiser.
Shoulder Arms (35:37) Released October 20, 1918. Charlie is in boot camp in the “awkward squad.” Once in France he gets no letters from home. He finally gets a package containing limburger cheese which requires a gas mask and which he throws over into the German trench. He goes “over the top” and captures thirteen Germans (“I surrounded them”), then volunteers to wander through the German lines disguised as a tree trunk. With the help of a French girl he captures the Kaiser and the Crown Prince and is given a statue and victory parade in New York and then … fellow soldiers wake him from his dream.
Sunnyside (28:41) Released May 15, 1919. Charlie works on a farm from 4am to late at night. He gets his food on the run (milking a cow into his coffee, holding an chicken over the frying pan to get fried eggs). He loves the neighbor’s daughter Edna but is disliked by her father. He rides a cow into a stream and is kicked off. Unconscious, he dreams of a nymph dance. Back in reality a city slicker is hurt in a car crash and is being cared for by Edna. When Charlie is rejected after attempting to imitate the slicker, the result is ambiguous–either tragic or a happy ending. Critics have long argued as to whether the final scene is real or a dream.
A Day’s Pleasure (17:26) Released December 15, 1919. Father takes his family for a drive in their falling-apart Model T Ford, gets in trouble in traffic, and spends the day on an excursion boat. As the boat is about to leave Charlie rushes ashore for cigarettes. As he returns the boat is leaving, but a fat lady has fallen forward with feet on the dock and hands on the deck so Charlie is able rush aboard across her back. One of Chaplins less sucessful films.
The Kid (1:07:59) Released February 6, 1921. The opening title reads: “A comedy with a smile–and perhaps a tear”. As she leaves the charity hospital and passes a church wedding, Edna deposits her new baby with a pleading note in a limousine and goes off to commit suicide. The limo is stolen by thieves who dump the baby by a garbage can. Charlie the Tramp finds the baby and makes a home for him. Five years later Edna has become an opera star but does charity work for slum youngsters in hope of finding her boy. A doctor called by Edna discovers the note with the truth about the Kid and reports it to the authorities who come to take him away from Charlie. Before he arrives at the Orphan Asylum Charlie steals him back and takes him to a flophouse. The proprietor reads of a reward for the Kid and takes him to Edna. Charlie is later awakened by a kind policeman who reunites him with the Kid at Edna’s mansion.
The Idle Class (31:04) Released September 25, 1921. The conflict here is between Charlie the wealthy and alcoholic husband and Charlie the Tramp: the idle rich and the idle poor. In the opening scene wealthy Edna descends from a Pullman car while the Tramp crawls out from under another one. At a fancy masquerade ball Edna’s husband appears as a knight whose visor is stuck closed. The Tramp shows up, running from the law, and is mistaken for the husband. Edna finds the new “husband” more to her liking than the real one. When true identities are revealed, a fight breaks out and the Tramp is ejected.
Pay Day (21:06) Released April 2, 1922. Charlie is an expert bricklayer. He has lots of fun and work and enjoys himself greatly while at the saloon. As he leaves work his wife takes the pay he has hidden in his hat. But he steals her purse so he can go out for the evening. He has a terrible time getting home on a very rainy night. When he does so he finds his wife waiting for him with a rolling pin.
The Pilgrim (39:31) Released February 26, 1923. When Charlie escapes from prison he dons a preacher’s clothes. By mistake he becomes the new minister for the town of Devil’s Gulch. Later, discovered as the convict, the sheriff takes Charlie to the Mexican border where he can choose to return, a convict, or face Mexican bandits at war with each other.
“I was determined to continue making silent films … I was a pantomimist and in that medium I was unique and, without false modesty, a master.”
A Woman of Paris (1:21:06) Released September 26, 1923. Marie St. Clair believes she has been jilted by her artist fiance Jean when he fails to meet her at the railway station. She goes off to Paris alone. A year later, mistress of wealthy Pierre Revel, she meets Jean again. Misinterpreting events she bounces back and forth between apparent security and true love. Also misinterpreting, Jean commits suicide.
The Gold Rush (1:11:49) Released June 26, 1925. A lone prospector ventures into Alaska looking for gold. He gets mixed up with some burly characters and falls in love with the beautiful Georgia. He tries to win her heart with his singular charm
The Circus (1:08:36) Released January 6, 1928. Charlie’s Tramp character finds himself at a circus where he is promptly gets chased around by the police who think he is a pickpocket. Running into the bigtop, he is an accidental sensation with his hilarious efforts to elude the police. The ringmaster/owner immediately hires him, but discovers the Tramp cannot be funny on purpose, so he takes advantage of the situation by making the Tramp a janitor just happens to always in the Bigtop at showtime. Unaware of this exploitation, the Tramp falls for the owner’s lovely acrobatic daughter, who is abused by her father. His chances seem good, until a dashing rival comes in and Charlie feels he has to compete with him.
City Lights (1:22:40) Released February 6, 1931. A tramp falls in love with a beautiful blind girl. Her family is in financial trouble. The tramp’s on-and-off friendship with a wealthy man allows him to be the girl’s benefactor and suitor.
Modern Times (1:27:01) Released February 5, 1936. Chaplins last ‘silent’ film, filled with sound effects, was made when everyone else was making talkies. Charlie turns against modern society, the machine age, (The use of sound in films ?) and progress. Firstly we see him frantically trying to keep up with a production line, tightening bolts. He is selected for an experiment with an automatic feeding machine, but various mishaps leads his boss to believe he has gone mad, and Charlie is sent to a mental hospital… When he gets out, he is mistaken for a communist while waving a red flag, sent to jail, foils a jailbreak, and is let out again. We follow Charlie through many more escapades before the film is out.
The Great Dictator (2:05:16) Released October 15, 1940. Twenty years after the end of WWI in which the nation of Tomainia was on the losing side, Adenoid Hynkel has risen to power as the ruthless dictator of the country. He believes in a pure Aryan state, and the decimation of the Jews. This situation is unknown to a simple Jewish-Tomainian barber who has since been hospitalized the result of a WWI battle. Upon his release, the barber, who had been suffering from memory loss about the war, is shown the new persecuted life of the Jews by many living in the Jewish ghetto, including a washerwoman named Hannah, with whom he begins a relationship. The barber is ultimately spared such persecution by Commander Schultz, who he saved in that WWI battle. The lives of all Jews in Tomainia are eventually spared with a policy shift by Hynkel himself, who is doing so for ulterior motives. But those motives include a want for world domination, starting with the invasion of neighboring Osterlich…
Monsieur Verdoux (1:59:03) Released April 11, 1947. Monsieur Verdoux is a bluebeard, he marries women and kills them after the marriage to get the money he needs for his family. But with two ladies he has bad luck. Co-written with Orson Wells. “Wars, conflict, it’s all business. One murder makes a villain. Millions a hero. Numbers sanctify.”
Limelight (2:11:05) Released October 16, 1952. Chaplin’s final American film tells the story of a fading music hall comedian’s effort to help a despondent ballet dancer learn both to walk and feel confident about life again. The highlight of the film is the classic duet with Chaplin’s only real artistic film comedy rival, Buster Keaton.
“Friends have asked how I came to engender this American antagonism. My prodigious sin was, and still is, being a non-conformist. Although I am not a Communist I refused to fall in line by hating them. Secondly, I was opposed to the Committee on Un-American Activities — a dishonest phrase to begin with, elastic enough to wrap around the throat and strangle the voice of any American citizen whose honest opinion is a minority of one.”
A King in New York 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (1:40:03) Released September 12, 1957. Due to a revolution in his country, King Shahdov comes to New York – almost broke. To get some money he goes to TV, making commercials and meets the child from communist parents. Due to this he is suddenly a suspected as a communist himself and has to face one of McCarthy’s hearings.
A Countess from Hong Kong 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (1:43:29) Released January 5, 1967. Natascha, a White Russian countess, stows away on a luxury liner at Hong Kong, determined to seek a new life in America. Natascha hides in the cabin of Ogden Mears, a millionaire diplomat, thereby causing an endless stream of misunderstandings and complications; particularly when his wife, Martha, joins the trip at Honolulu, necessitating a ‘marriage’ to Ogden’s valet, Hudson, a saronged-dive overboard and more subterfuge on the part of Ogdon and his associate, Harvey.
I’d like to acknowledge imdb and their editor Ed Stephan in particular for the excellent exhastively provided synopses that I borrowed for the annotation of this list.