Today is the anniversary of the release date of the Charlie Chaplin Keystone comedy The Face on the Bar-Room Floor (1914).
Inspired by the 1872 John Henry Titus song, Chaplin’s parody begins with the drunken tramp telling his sad, sad life story to a crowd in a bar-room. Once he was a successful artist and a rich client stole his model/ girl friend away. (The girl is played by the very fetching Cecile Arnold). A few months later Charlie sees the guilty couple together and somehow they have a whole brood of children. He bottoms out, brawls with everyone in the bar. This film (along with One A.M., A Night in the Show, and Pay Day) contains one of Chaplin’s most brilliant showcase of a his skill as a comic drunk. The scene where he attempts to draw on the bar-room floor, his bones seemingly made of rubber, is priceless. Finally he passes out. Of course — what else could he do?
For more on silent and slapstick film history, including great Charlie Chaplin shorts like “The Face on the Bar-Room Floor” don’t miss 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