Charlie Chaplin in “Work”

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Today is the anniversary of the release date of the 1915 Charlie Chaplin comedy Work. 

This is an interesting example of Charlie the low comedian: in his early years there were many times when his comedy was not terribly different from the sort of thing we associate with The Three Stooges, or for that matter, the Mack Sennett crowd from which he’d just emerged. Indeed the special effects gag early in Work, where Charlie totes his boss (Charles Inslee) in a cart, rickshaw-like, up a steep incline (really just a tilted camera) is much more the Sennett style than Chaplin’s. They arrive at a mansion, and proceed to enact a mess of pretty standard “job” gags involving wallpaper hanging, paintbrushes, ladders, scaffolds, bricks and the like. Messes are made, fights ensue. Along the way he falls in love with the housemaid (Edna Purviance). It all ends with great violence. The boss appears to drown in a bathtub. And then the house collapses in a gas explosion!

For more on silent and slapstick comedy don’t my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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For more on show biz historyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

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