Charlie Chaplin in “Police”
Today is the anniversary of the release date of the Charlie Chaplin comedy Police (1916).
In Police, Charlie is a burglar just getting out of prison. The meat of the story happens when his character falls in love with Edna Purviance when he and his cohort (Wesley Ruggles) are robbing her house! Edna proves herself a rare angel. She feeds the men a meal (granted it’s to stall them until the titular police arrive). She also courageously tries to stop them from climbing the staircase because she is afraid they will upset her sick, old mother who is sleeping on the second floor. Later, after Charlie takes her side and turns against his own partner, Edna rewards him by shielding him from the police and sending him away with a little grub stake. This time when he walks down the road alone, it is with a spring in his step. We get the feeling that his jubilation is not because of the cash, but because he has just met the first person who’s ever been nice to him.
For more on comedy film history please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etcTo find out about the history of vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.