Showing posts with label Mack Swain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mack Swain. Show all posts

Monday, November 9, 2015

HIS TRYSTING PLACE, released November 9th, 1914

Written and directed by Charlie Chaplin.

Mabel Normand is brilliant as the frazzled wife and mother. 
"Here, play with this [a gun!]"
This is not the first film to show Charlie with a wife,
but it is the first to show him in a domestic situation.
Charlie tries to shield himself from Mack Swain's sloppy eating.
After a brawl with Mack Swain at the restaurant, Charlie accidently takes his coat,
 and vice versa.
Due to the coat mix-up, Mabel thinks Charlie is "trysting" with Phyllis Allen.
And you can imagine what Phyllis is thinking when she finds a baby bottle in her "husband's" coat.
But all's well that ends well...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Harry Carr describes a day on the set of Chaplin's final short comedy, PAY DAY, released April 2nd, 1922

The following is an excerpt from "Speech Of Gold" by Harry Carr, Motion Picture, May 1922
Hanging over the edge of a scaffolding, midway between me and the blue California sky, were the two most famous feet in the world.

Charlie Chaplin was directing a new comedy, and his far-famed and eloquent extremities were expressive of his emotion.
Brother Syd, his fastidiousness smothered in plasterers' overalls with a broken Billycock hat on his head, was sitting curled up in an iron wheel-barrow looking up at Charlie with very much the same affectionate look that you see on the face of an admiring little dog squatting down to watch a Saint Bernard.

On another scaffold, perilously hugging the edge of a new brick building sat Mack Swain heavily engaged in being funny. If there is any forlorn, desolate, heart-rending picture of woe and agony, it is a scared fat man teetering on a dizzy roost and trying to be gay and joyous.
Mack was supposed to be eating a comic tin-pail dinner that kept mysteriously disappearing. Charlie kept telling him. it was funny, but Mack did not seem to be convinced. When he grabbed for the fugitive sausage, Charlie politely shrieked with glee and wiggled his feet over the edge of the platform in an ecstasy of merriment, but Mack only looked at him reproachfully and sighed heavily. Down in the wheel-barrow, Syd chortled loyally like an amiable echo.

Edna Purviance was sitting on the aerial plank next to Mack Swain. She was sitting on her feet; one of them had gone to sleep and she was afraid to budge. When the audience laughed and the illustrious feet wiggled by way of applause, Edna smiled a wan, scared smile.

Charlie was determined they were going to do it in the proper spirit of joy, but it was the distinguished feet and Syd who seemed to get most hilarity out of Mack and his disappearing lunch.

"Mack, you move around too much, you want to make it more subtle. You see, you don't know what on earth became of that hot dog and it bewilders you."
"Yeah, but Charlie," remonstrated Mack, looking with a shudder down over the edge of the scaffold, "when I get funny I have to do it with my hands and my face--everything."

Charlie's feet suddenly vanished. The next thing I saw he was sitting up on the scaffold with his hat cocked down over his eyes and his feet stuck out in front of him.
"This is how you want to do it, Mack," he said. "See, like this. It's a lot funnier, Mack, if you just sit still and let it get over with your thoughts. Just try it, Mack; it'd be funny."
Mack had relaxed into gloom. Someone joggled the scaffold and he gave a wild look of alarm, then sank into fat despair again.
"Get him a new sausage," said Charlie with vivacious cordiality. But Mack declined to be moved to exuberance by a new sausage. Out of the depth of his dejection he said he would get along with the old sausage. And so the comedy went on with Charlie bubbling with gleeful encouragement and Syd echoing from the wheel-barrow ; and Mack Swain and his sorrow--fat and. forlorn on the scaffold. Presently the winter sunshine began to fade, and to his unspeakable relief they let Mack come hobbling stiffly down from the scaffold. One of his legs was asleep and he was bursting with "prop" sausage, but his soul was at peace. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

His Musical Career hits a snag

Filming this scene held up traffic for hours on a busy L.A. street.

Filming on location was the norm in the early silent days. But given its distractions, Charlie was often at odds with these expeditions. In fact, he loathed them.Therefore it's not surprising to find the following clipping about a problem Charlie encountered during location shooting for His Musical Career, which was released 100 years ago today.

Moving Picture World, October 24th, 1914. ("The Song Shop" = "His Musical Career")

According to Chaplin by Denis Gifford: "only Charlie's fame saved him from arrest."

For a closer look at the filming locations for His Musical Career see this post on John Bengston's "Silent Locations" blog.


1Chaplin, My Autobiography,: "I loathe working outside on location because of its distraction. One's concentration and inspiration blow away with the wind." Charlie was describing the location shoot for Shoulder Arms which was filmed during a "sizzling heat wave" and added that "working inside a camouflaged tree was anything but comfortable."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A BUSY DAY, released May 7th, 1914

Directed by Mack Sennett.

Supposedly wearing Alice Davenport's dress, this split reel comedy was Chaplin's first onscreen attempt at female impersonation. However in A Busy Day, Chaplin portrays a female character (the jealous wife of Mack Swain), not a man disguised as a woman. This is also another Keystone that was filmed during an actual event--a military parade in San Pedro--and like Kid Auto Races At Venice, Charlie's character obstructs a newsreel camera and gets into a scuffle with the director (this time played by Mack Sennett).

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Chaplin's directorial debut, CAUGHT IN THE RAIN, released May 4th, 1914

In order to convince Mack Sennett to allow him to direct his own film, Chaplin voluntarily deposited his life-savings of $1,500 as a guarantee in case it could not be released. He later remembered not being as confident as he thought he would be directing his own picture. "I had a slight attack of panic. But after Sennett saw the first day's work I was reassured. The picture was called Caught In The Rain. It was not a world-beater, but it was funny and quite a success."

Basic plot: Charlie flirts with Mack Swain's wife (Alice Davenport) who is also a sleepwalker.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Keystone banquet at Levy's Cafe, 1915

Charlie was already at Essanay by this time, but you'll recognize many of his co-stars. It's always interesting to see these folks out of costume.

From Father Goose: The Story Of Mack Sennett by Gene Fowler (1934)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Boxing with Kid McCoy, March 1924

McCoy, center, referees a match between Charlie & Mack Swain, who is dressed in his costume for The Gold Rush.
Autographed photo. Charlie's inscription reads: "To One X Champ From Another X Champ. Charlie Chaplin"
More photos here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Charlie & Mack Swain with boxer Kid McCoy, 1924

McCoy referees a fight between Charlie & Mack Swain, who is wearing his costume from The Gold Rush.
Charlie is declared the winner and his prize is not one big belt, but several small ones.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dance & Grow Thin with Mack Swain

Motion Picture, March 1926
"The Egyptian version of the Charleston as practiced by Mr. Swain. If you do this, morning and night, you will remove fifty pounds of plaster from the ceiling of the apartment below."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Charlie & his crew on location in Griffith Park during production of THE IDLE CLASS, c. 1921.

Seated next to Charlie is Mack Swain (with cigar) & Allan Garcia (right).

The Idle Class was Allan Garcia’s first film with Chaplin. His most prominent role was as the cruel ringmaster in The Circus (1928). He would later appear as the millionaire’s butler in City Lights (1931) & the factory boss in Modern Times (1936). Garcia died in 1938 at age 51.