Today is the anniversary of the release date of the Charlie Chaplin comedy Twenty Minutes of Love. This one is notable for being the first movie Charlie had a hand in directing. As we saw in our piece on Mabel at the Wheel, Chaplin was sick of taking direction from others and he was also acquiring some power. So Mack Sennett allowed him a trial on this picture, with Joseph Maddern, whose first film this also was, as co-director.
Don’t go expecting genius! Charlie had only been in the movie business for two months at this stage. Twenty Minutes of Love is just one of the countless Keystone pictures that consist of a bunch of people cavorting around the park. Chaplin is at the center of it all as an itinerant thief. First he harasses a couple played by Edgar Kennedy and Minta Durfee. Then he steals a watch. Then while he is spooning with a girl (Eve Nelson) another pickpocket (Chester Conklin) steals the watch from him. This devolves into general mayhem until finally, as happens in so many of these movies, everyone inexplicably falls into a pond.
For more on silent and slapstick comedy, including Charlie Chaplin classics like “20 Minutes of Love”, please check out my 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 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.