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The Floorwalker

Big the floorwalker mutual 1915
Year :
Cast :
Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell, Lloyd Bacon, Albert Austin, Leo White, Charlotte Mineau, James T. Kelly, Frank J. Coleman
Production :
Description :
The Floorwalker, Chaplin’s first film under his landmark contract with Lone Star-Mutual, has embezzlement as its subject. Chaplin’s inspiration for the film came while he and his brother Sydney were in New York City negotiating his contract with Mutual. While walking up Sixth Avenue at Thirty-third Street, Chaplin saw a man fall down an escalator serving the adjacent elevated train station and at once realized the comic possibilities of a moving staircase. He asked his technical director, Ed Brewer, to design and construct an escalator in a department store set designed by art director George (Scotty) Cleethorpe (who had worked for Chaplin at Essanay). “With a bare notion I would order sets, and during the building of them the art director would come to me for details, and I would bluff and give them particulars about where I wanted doors and archways.” Chaplin wrote in his autobiography, “In this desperate way I started many a comedy.” After seeing The Floorwalker, Mack Sennett commented, “Why the hell didn’t we ever think of a running staircase?” The Floorwalker has none of the pathos, romance, or irony of the best Chaplin Mutuals. The crudeness and cruelty of his earlier films is still evident in The Floorwalker, although the film contains a stronger plot than most of his previous films, and the moving-staircase chase was novel for 1916. A glimpse of Chaplin’s evolution to a more graceful type of screen comedy is evident in Charlie’s dance when he discovers the valise of stolen money and dives into the bag. (This dance of joy ends with the manager choking him). Audiences were amazed and delighted by Chaplin’s brilliant antics. Yet he was determined to develop a new dimension to film comedy, the beginnings of which evolve in his third Mutual release, The Vagabond. Text by Jeffrey Vance, adapted from his book Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema (New York, 2003) © 2009 Roy Export SAS
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