The Essential Charlie Chaplin (1914-1917, 2004)
Worldcat Link: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/228466199
In the world of digital remastering, times change fast. Anyone who bought this collection of early Chaplin shorts in 2004 had to be satisfied with it as, most probably, the best available opportunity to see the first year of his career. Fortunately, in 2010, Flicker Alley came out with the superior “Chaplin at Keystone,” which I’ve reviewed before, and today many of the Century Films of Chaplin can be found in superior quality for free online. Even at the time of release, according to our friends at The Silent Era, there were better available copies of the later material. At least, judging by Worldcat, there aren’t many libraries still foisting this version off, but it’s the only way to get Keystone-era Chaplin on Netflix, and that’s distinctly a failure on their part. All of the prints are in bad shape, washed out so they appear over-exposed, and full of scratches and other damage. The music is apparently public domain jazz, which may be period-appropriate, but isn’t what you’d have been likely to hear in a Nickelodeon at the time, and no attempt has been made to sync it with the action on screen – someone just drops a needle and lets it run. In all, this is poor man’s Chaplin, and not worth the time.