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This is Charlie Chaplin’s first film and apparently, he hated it …

Ian Smith

By now, you maybe have noticed that we are kind of obsessed with Charlie Chaplin, but can you judge us? In his career, Chaplin has directed more than 70 movie numbers and made an appearance as a lead character in more than 80 films.

But, what was his first film?

Charlie Chaplin played the lovable rouge Edgar English in “Making a Living”, written and directed by Henry Lehrman.It premiered on February 2, 1914.

The below video we found on Yestervid, shows Chaplin in his first film

Chaplin’s character is named Edgar English, but most of the characters he played (usually in the persona of the Tramp) would be either nameless or would informally be given the name Charlie.

Chaplin wore a large moustache and a top hat in this film, he also carries a walking cane. Chaplin’s famed screen persona of “The Little Tramp” did not appear until his next film, Kid Auto Races at Venice, but his character in this film is somewhat similar, having a hat, cane, moustache and baggy trousers.In later accounts, Chaplin lamented that the best of his performance had been left out of the final cut. Lehrman later admitted to deliberately mishandling the cutting of the film out of spite for Chaplin. The Fremont Hotel, Los Angeles is shown briefly in the background of a fighting scene in the road. This is one of only a couple of films in which Chaplin and the Keystone Cops both appear.

Charles Chaplin got his start at Keystone when Sennett hired him fresh from his vaudeville career to make silent films. Chaplin arrived in Los Angeles, home of the Keystone studio, in early December 1913. His boss was Mack Sennett, who initially expressed concern that the 24-year-old looked too young. He was not used in a picture until late January, during which time Chaplin attempted to learn the processes of filmmaking

Caught in the Rain, issued 4 May 1914, was Chaplin’s directorial debut and was highly successful.Thereafter he directed almost every short film in which he appeared for Keystone, at the rate of approximately one per week,  a period which he later remembered as the most exciting time of his career.Chaplin’s films introduced a slower form of comedy than the typical Keystone farce, and he developed a large fan base. In November 1914, he had a supporting role in the first feature-length comedy film, Tillie’s Punctured Romance, directed by Sennett and starring Marie Dressler, which was a commercial success and increased his popularity.  When Chaplin’s contract came up for renewal at the end of the year, he asked for $1,000 a week ($23,943 in 2016 dollars) – an amount Sennett refused as too large


Ian Smith

Ian Smith is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News