Chaplin At Keystone: An International Collaboration of 34 Original Films

Charles Chaplin came to Mack Sennett s Keystone Studios late in 1913 as a little-known British vaudevillian, and after a year, had not only established his Tramp character, learned to write and direct his own films, and also achieved public recognition as a star comedian. Although Keystone did not publicize its performers by name, standees of Chaplin's likeness outside theaters sufficed to attract audiences. Some of the films, especially Tillie's Punctured Romance, remained in theatrical distribution for decades. The fact that all but one of the Chaplin Keystones exist is due, of course, to the star's enormous subsequent popularity. Most of the original Keystone negatives, however, were simply printed away and the survival of all but a few of these films depends upon a very few original prints, a larger number of reissue prints, and some duped prints from later years. With the support of Association Chaplin (Paris), 35mm full aperture, early-generation materials were gathered over an eight year search on almost all the films from archives and collectors around the world, and were painstakingly pieced together and restored by the British Film Institute National Archive, the Cineteca Bologna and its laboratory L Immagine Ritrovata in Italy, and Lobster Films in Paris. Most are now clear, sharp and rock-steady, although some reveal that their source prints are well-used and a handful survives only in 16mm. While admitting these limitations, one can now understand Chaplin's meteoric rise, for it is possible for the first time in generations to see clearly what clever and imaginative films he made at Keystone. Flicker Alley is proud to present the world debut of Chaplin at Keystone, a 4-DVD boxed set. These editions feature all-new musical settings by outstanding practitioners of silent film accompaniment Eric Beheim, Neil Brand, Antonio Coppola, Frederick Hodges, Stephen Horne, Robert Israel, Rodney Sauer and The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, Ethan Uslan, and Ken Winokur's band Tillie's Nightmare with the UCLA Film and Television Archive restoration of Tillie's Punctured Romance. Chaplin At Keystone also includes several fascinating special features. An extensive booklet provides an overview of the importance of the Chaplin Keystone comedies and detailed notes on the individual films by film historian and author Jeffrey Vance (Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema). Inside the Keystone Project is a short documentary detailing the international restoration efforts; historian John Bengtson takes a then and now look at several Keystone film locations in a 10 minute filmed tour based on his book Silent Traces. There is also a short excerpt from A Thief Catcher, recently-discovered by Paul E. Gierucki, with Chaplin as a Keystone Cop; along with the animated Charlie's White Elephant, and a gallery of rare photographs.

 

DVD Review: Flicker Alley (4-disc) - Region 0 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution Flicker Alley
Region 0 -
NTSC


Distribution Flicker Alley - Region 0 - NTSC
Runtime 2:41:55 + 2:28:30 + 2:23:30 + 2:38:10
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.13 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate: Disc 1

Bitrate: Disc 2

Bitrate: Disc 3

Bitrate: Disc 4

Audio Silent  (Dolby Digital mono musical accompaniment) 
Subtitles Intertitles are all in English (some translated from Spanish or French)
Features Release Information:
Studio: Flicker Alley

Aspect Ratio:
1.33:1

 

Edition Details:

• Excerpt from A Thief Catcher (1914 - 7:11)

• Charlie's White Elephant (5:49)

• Inside the Keystone Project(10:28)

• Silent traces - The Keystone Locations (12:19)

• Photo Gallery (42 mostly from Jeffrey Vance Collection)

• DVD Credits

38-page booklet - photos, essays, notes on the individual films

DVD Release Date:
October 26th, 2010
Four slim Transparent Keep Cases and book inside cardboard box
Chapters: 18

 

Comments:

This is an incredible boxset by Flicker Alley. It offers almost 10 hours of early Chaplin at Keystone. 34 short films - virtually his complete work there. This includes 'Making a Living' - his 'first screen appearance' and an excerpt of the recently discovered A Thief Catcher. One can recognize the famous Keystone Cops and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle among the stars. Each short starts with a description of where the prints used were obtained and in most instances this was from multiple sources including sources like nitrate positive prints from The Library of Congress in Washington,  Suomen Eokuva Arkisto in Helsinki, Lobster Films in Paris and/or BFI in London.

 

Quality, predictably, various from extensive damage in 'Recreation' and visible marks in Cruel, Cruel Love but these are the exception and most are consistent and watchable. I've tried to give a reasonable sampling in the screen captures below. I doubt any true fans will be disappointed in the quality. I was impressed with how strong they looked on many occasions during my viewing. There is some contrast flickering but greyscale and black levels are frequently strong - certainly considering the age of the films. Do to the frame rate conversion there is interlacing but it never was bothersome to my viewing.

Disc One:

Making a Living (1914)
Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914)
Mabel's Strange Predicament (1914)
Between Showers (1914)
A Film Johnnie (1914)
Tango Tangles (1914)
His Favorite Pastime (1914)
Cruel, Cruel Love (1914)
The Star Boarder (1914)
Mabel at the Wheel (1914)
Twenty Minutes of Love (1914)
Caught in a Cabaret (1914)

Disc Two:

Caught in the Rain (1914)
A Busy Day (1914)
The Fatal Mallet (1914)
Her Friend the Bandit (1914)
The Knockout (1914)
Mabel's Busy Day (1914)
Mabel's Married Life (1914)
Laughing Gas (1914)
The Property Man (1914)
The Face on the Bar Room Floor (1914)
Recreation (1914)

 

Disc Three:

The Masquerader (1914)
His New Profession (1914)
The Rounders (1914)
The New Janitor (1914)
Those Love Pangs (1914)
Dough and Dynamite (1914)
Gentlemen of Nerve (1914)
His Musical Career (1914)
His Trysting Place (1914)

 

Disc Four:

Tillie's Punctured Romance (1914)
Getting Acquainted (1914)
His Prehistoric Past (1914)

Extras:

Excerpt from A Thief Catcher (1914)
Charlie's White Elephant
Inside the Keystone Project
Silent Traces - The Keystone Locations

Photo Gallery

As described on the package - "These editions feature all-new musical settings by outstanding practitioners of silent film accompaniment Eric Beheim, Neil Brand, Antonio Coppola, Frederick Hodges, Stephen Horne, Robert Israel, Rodney Sauer and The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, Ethan Uslan, and Ken Winokur's band Tillie's Nightmare with the UCLA Film and Television Archive restoration of Tillie's Punctured Romance." The intertitles are all in English - some having been translated from Spanish or French where the best quality print(s) were obtained. There are no, and no need for, any subtitles. The discs are rendered in the NTSC standard, with no region coding.

Supplements include a 7-minute excerpt from A Thief Catcher, Charlie's White Elephant -,an animated short feature with the little Tramp, Inside the Keystone Project is 10-minutes detailing the incredible work to bring these to the public including restoration, intertitle translations etc. and Silent Traces - The Keystone Locations is 12-minutes. There is also a photo gallery (42 mostly from Jeffrey Vance Collection) and DVD Credits. Included in the package of 4 slim transparent DVD cases is a wonderful 38-page booklet with photos, essays, and notes on the individual films. This is housed in a handsome cardboard box.

This set is outstanding - easily inclusive as one of the best packages of the year! One to keep for the rest of my life. We can't endorse it strongly enough. Flicker Alley have really outdone themselves and fans should be immensely appreciative. Time to overdose on The Little Tramp. Purchase with extreme confidence!    

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus
 

 


Screen Captures

 

Intertitle sample

 

 

Making a Living (1914) - Chaplin's first screen appearance!

 

 


 

 


 

Cruel, Cruel Love - damage

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Recreation (1914) - the most damaged

 


 

 

 

 

 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution Flicker Alley
Region 0 -
NTSC



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