Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Making a Living (1914) - Henry Lehrman

There's only one real reason for anyone to watch this little scratchy 12 minute Keystone knockabout short. That reason being that this is the film debut of Charles Spencer Chaplin, other than that this film has very little going for it. As with all Keystone comedies from this era there is no real story to speak of, Chaplin plays a dodgy type who keeps running into his rival Henry Lehrman. Both end up going for a reporters job, and from then on it feels like just a question of time before some sort of chase ensues. Which of course it does, Lehrman witnesses a car crash only to have Chaplin half inch his camera and beat him to the story. Cue a rather tepid chase involving a couple of Keystone cops, a woman in bed and an angry husband (don't ask). At one point it looks like Chaplin stabs a policeman with a knife, surely that can't be right. To be honest everything happens so fast once the chase section is off and running that it's hard to tell just what is going on.

Chaplin isn't quite the Chaplin of legend in this, although it is great to have these early films available to see just how he developed. After all he made 35 films for Keystone in 1914, during which time he created and refined the character of The Little Tramp. His best moments in Making a Living involve him falling and slipping over, hardly the sort of thing you'd say to recommend a film to someone is it? Still there you go, the best was yet to come. From tiny acorns and all that.

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