Today is the anniversary of a major benchmark; the release of Charlie Chaplin’s first movie Making a Living (1914).
Chaplin had been starring in vaudeville with Fred Karno’s Speechless Comedians when scouted by agents working for Mack Sennett’s Keystone the previous year. In Making a Living, Chaplin hasn’t yet discovered his “Little Tramp” character. Films in which he doesn’t play the Little Fellow are surprisingly plentiful, but for those less acquainted it may come as something a revelation to see him as a fancy dude in kid gloves and a top hat, with an entirely different sort of mustache. Trying hard to fit in with the Keystone house style, Chaplin plays a nasty character who gets a job as a reporter. Much destruction and encounters with the Keystone Kops ensue. Also in this historic film are Charles Inslee as the editor, Henry Lehrman (who also directed), Edgar Kennedy, Billy Gilbert, Chester Conklin, Minta Durfee and Alice Davenport.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy film history, including Charlie Chaplin classics like “Making a Living” please see my book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube