The Travesty of “Triple Trouble”

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Today is the anniversary of the release date of the film Triple Trouble (1918). We very pointedly refrain from calling it a “Charlie Chaplin comedy”, though it is full of footage with Chaplin at its center. That is because Chaplin didn’t create this film; it was assembled by Essanay studios out of footage from Chaplin’s aborted 1915 feature Life, along  with out-takes from the shorts Police and Work and some newly shot scenes by Leo White. Thus the film is non-canonical; sort of a bootleg, albeit one produced by a studio Chaplin had legitimately worked for. Chaplin tried to have its release stopped but had no legal case; Essanay owned the film he had shot. To this day it is marketed as a Chaplin film, although it’s a bit of a dishonor to his legacy to do so. Of course it’s funny in certain individual shots. Chaplin had directed and starred in them, after all! But taken in its totality this is not a film he would have made.

For more on early comedy film history, including Charlie Chaplin film like “Triple Trouble” don’t miss my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube

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