Century Film Project

Celebrating the movies our ancestors loved

Tag: Alice Davenport

Caught in the Rain (1914)

Caught_in_the_Rain

Charlie Chaplin teamed up with the Keystone Kops for this simple Keystone comedy in May of 1914, assuring that it would have the key elements of “a girl, a park and a policeman.” In this case, it also has two of Chaplin’s better foils, Mack Swain (most famously co-starring in “The Gold Rush” and also in “Tillie’s Punctured Romance”) and Alice Davenport (also in “The Star Boarder” and “The Property Man” in 1914). Here, they are a married couple who Chaplin meets in the park, attempting in his drunkenly naïve way to flirt with the wife before being driven off by the husband. In a typically Keystone coincidence, Charlie winds up in the same hotel, and the wife’s problem of sleepwalking leads to further problems before Charlie finds himself soaked in his pajamas during a rainstorm. His drunk act is the real hit of the show, particularly his difficulty ascending the stairs to his hotel room. This was actually the first movie in which Chaplin directed himself, reputedly because Mabel Normand now refused to work with him while Mack Sennett couldn’t afford to fire him. There’s nothing outstanding in the direction here, but clearly in the roughly four months that he’d worked at Keystone, Chaplin picked up the essentials of running a taut comedy with multiple screens interacting to heighten mayhem.

Caught_in_the_Rain1

Director: Charlie Chaplin

Camera: Frank D. Williams

Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Mack Swain, Alice Davenport, Alice Howell

Run Time: 16 Min

You can watch it for free: here.

Mabel’s Strange Predicament (1914)

Mabel's Strange Predicament

This early Chaplin movie has a lot more of the elements we associate with him than the ones I’ve been reviewing in recent days. He’s in his classic “Little Tramp” getup, although it seems to me that his mustache is a bit larger on his lip than it would be in years to come. He’s doing a “funny drunk” bit, with pratfalls and slapstick being the source of most of the humor, and he’s chasing the ladies, in this case with little success. Mabel Normand, who got “top billing” (in the sense that her name is in the title), is one of the girls he chases, and she winds up hiding under the bed of a hotel neighbor, leading to various romantic complications with Charlie, the neighbor’s wife, and her boyfriend. The husband and wife are Alice Davenport and Chester Conklin, who each had small roles in “Making a Living” and Wikipedia identifies one of the bellboys as Al St. John, but this may be as controversial as in the case of “Mabel’s Blunder,” so I won’t say for sure. While the rest of the cast are funny, it’s clear from this movie that Chaplin was the up-and-comer on the Keystone lot at the time.

Director: Mabel Normand

Camera: Enrique Juan Vallejo and Frank D. Williams

Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Alice Davneport, Chester Conklin

Run Time: 12 Min

You can watch it for free here or here.