Today is the anniversary of the release date of the Charlie Chaplin comedy The Masquerader (1914). The film is one of many Keystone and Chaplin comedies to be set in an actual movie studio, with Chaplin and cohorts like Fatty Arbuckle and Chester Conklin essentially playing themselves. When we first see Chaplin, he is out of make-up — probably a big treat for audiences of the time. He puts on his tramp get-up in a dressing room he shares with Arbuckle (just like real life). Then he proceeds to cause all manner of havoc, and gets chased off. Returning to the set in the garb of a woman, he entrances the director Charlie Murray for awhile. Then returns to form, eventually getting chased by everyone at the studio, and falling into a well. (When you didn’t have an ending for your Keystone comedy, “…and then everyone falls in the water” would do well enough!
To learn more about silent and slapstick comedy 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 etc
To find out more 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.