A NIGHT IN THE SHOW, released 100 years ago this week*

*The release date for this film is almost always given as November 20th but contemporary trade journals give the date as the 15th. 

Chaplin’s twelfth film for Essanay was based on Fred Karno’s music hall sketch “Mumming Birds” (known as “A Night In An English Music Hall” in the States) in which Chaplin played “The Inebriated Swell.” In this film version, Chaplin plays two roles, the tipsy tuxedo-clad, Mr. Pest, and the drunken bum, Mr. Rowdy, who wreak havoc on a theater during a vaudeville performance.

What was said about it?

“This picture was so different from most of the appearances of the famous comedy artist that it was the subject of a great deal of comment. It was said that the picture was the best one of its kind ever seen at the theater, and it undoubtedly drew big crowds.” (Moving Picture World, December 4th, 1915)

“In this play Mr. Chaplin doffs his old costume and appears in dress suit and silk hat. But even in this disguise it is impossible not to recognize the Chaplin walk, the Chaplin capers and the inimitable Chaplin mannerisms. He is Charles Chaplin, whether in the garb of a hobo or a man of society.”(Motion Picture News, November 13th, 1915)

“The newest Chaplin, ‘A Night at the Show,’ contains the comedian in a dual role: with plastered hair and respectable evening attire; and, again, in the wildest and most disreputable rig—and an unaccustomed makeup, too—that he has ever assumed. Here Chaplin loses the rails again by reason of no story. And still he is funny. When they showed me this mussy, and at times decidedly unpleasant visual narrative I punctuated it with ribald shouts. I couldn’t help roaring. ‘Oh, for a Chaplin author!'” (Julian Johnson, Photoplay, December 1915)

“The audience wanted to enthuse, but there was nothing really worth while enthusing over. It was Charlie Chaplin in his latest comedy, ‘A Night in the Show,’ that the gathering went wild about. After that the evening appeared cold to the remainder of the bill.” (Variety, November 19th, 1915)

“This two-reel Chaplin release, which is founded on the well-known English Music Hall sketch, ‘A Night in a Music Hall,’ permits Charlie Chaplin to revive the character of the man with the jag, and add highly laughable bits of new business to the old situations. Mr. Chaplin also impersonates a ‘tough’ in the gallery. The picture closes with a ‘hot finish,’ although every one in the cast is soaked with water from a fire hose.” (Moving Picture World, November 27th, 1915)

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.