February 2nd, 1914 – Introducing Charlie Chaplin

Today-In-History

Making a Living (also known as Doing His Best, A Busted Johnny, Troubles and Take My Picture) is the first film starring Charlie Chaplin. It premiered on February 2nd, 1914. Chaplin plays Edgar English, a lady-charming swindler who runs afoul of the Keystone Kops. It was written and directed by Henry Lehrman.

Charlie Chaplin 680

Chaplin’s character attempts to convince a passerby (director Henry Lehrman) to give him money. Chaplin is then shown flirting with a woman; Lehrman enters to present the woman with flowers and sees Chaplin. A slapstick fight between the two ensues. Later, Lehrman’s character takes a photograph of an automobile accident; Chaplin’s character steals the camera whilst the journalist is helping a trapped motorist and rushes back to the paper with it to claim the photograph as his own. A short pursuit with the Keystone Kops follows.

Chaplin wore a large moustache and a top hat in this film, he also carries a walking cane. Chaplin’s famed screen persona of “The Little Tramp” did not appear until his next film, Kid Auto Races at Venice, but his character in this film is somewhat similar, having hat, cane, moustache and baggy trousers. In later accounts Chaplin lamented that the best of his performance had been left out of the final cut. Lehrman later admitted to deliberately mishandling the cutting of the film out of spite for Chaplin. The Fremont Hotel, Los Angeles is shown briefly in the background of a fighting scene in the road. This is one of only a couple of films in which Chaplin and the Keystone Cops both appear.

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


 

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