Film Johnny (1914)

by popegrutch


I wanted to be sure and include this early Chaplin film, because it gives us a certain amount of insight into movies and moviemaking in the period of our subject. It begins with the “Little Tramp” attending a Nickelodeon and seeing a Keystone film which excites him greatly, to the point where he falls in love with the star (Virginia Kirtley, who we saw in “Making a Living” and “A Flirt’s Mistake”). The theater gives a wonderful sense of the squalid conditions of most movie-going at the time: folding chairs are set up in rows so that the patrons in the front block the view of those in the rear, the room is tiny and cramped. Next, Chaplin goes to the studio, which we see in a lovely panorama as he first walks in, showing the conditions in which he and his colleagues were working. Later shots follow the more standard “stagey” framing, pulled back just a bit so we can see the camera running as Chaplin inevitably blocks the shot in order to try to win the girl. They move to a location shoot, trying to capture the thrill of an actual fire as the fire dept puts it out. Fights break out and pretty much everyone gets sprayed with the hose. Charlie does not get the girl.

Director: George Nichols

Camera: Frank D. Williams

Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Mable Normand, Virginia Kirtley, Ford Sterling, Edgar Kennedy

Run Time: 12 Min

You can watch it for free: here or here.