Charlie Chaplin is one of the most iconic names of the early 20th Century in Movies with his beloved character The Little Tramp, his movies are greats of the Silent Era of Movie Making, for a career that lasted 64 Years, he would have something missing from those many films. The Lost Works includes, 2 Lost Films, Multiple Deleted Scenes, Unfinished ideas and even a movie that nobody knew existed.
A Thief Catcher - 1914
In 2010 a copy of the lost Keystone Film A Thief Catcher upon looking at the one reel Comedy the researchers found Chaplin in the film as one of the Keystone Cops, the film released on February 19th 1914 was Chaplin's fourth and was able to confirm claims Chaplin made that he was a Keystone Cop in one of his movies.
Her Friend the Bandit - 1914
Released on June 4, 1914 the movie has Chaplin playing the love interest of Mabel Normand who invites him to a party as Count De Beans, however after his behaviour angering the guests and the real Count appears results in the Cops being called to remove the Bandit. The movie is Lost making it the only lost film of Chaplin's career, his success has meant that copies of his films have been rediscovered so it might still be out there.
Life (Unfinished Feature) - 1915
See Triple Trouble
A Burlesque on Carmen - 1915
While not lost physically, the film as Chaplin created was. The second to last of Chaplin's Essanay Films it was parodying the movie version of Carmen made in the same year by Cecil B. DeMille. However after his departure from the studio, Essanay re-released the movie, this version took the originally tight paced Chaplin two reeler and added a subplot using outtakes and new footage with comic actor Ben Turpin as a gypsy, bunking it to four reels. Upon discovering this Chaplin sued Essanay for defamation of his movie but failed to stop the longer version's release thus damaging the reputation of the film. It was believed that Chaplin's original was lost forever, however Film preservationist David Shepard studied the transcripts of the lawsuits and other sources re-cutting the film to Chaplin's original vision.
Triple Trouble - 1918
After Chaplin's departure from Essanay they were in need of money and after winning the Lawsuit with Carmen they had copyright to all the movies releasing Revue versions of the movies but even this couldn't stop the studio's problems. So in 1918 they decided to take the outtakes from the vaults and make a movie.
The some of outtakes came from a unfinished film called Life which would have been Chaplin's first directed feature, it's difficult to from the scenes what the movie was going to be but Charlie was to play a janitor at a mansion who ends up causing a mess, the bad tempered cook blames Edna after she threw a rag meant for Charlie but Charlie comes to Edna's defence. That night he goes to his Dosshouse where his politely knocks out a drunk, then a thief tries stealing the money of the other tramps only for Chaplin to return it and wakes the other men.
Other Outtakes and New Plot
The film also outtakes from Police, Work and new footage directed by Leo White (the Dandy actor from Chaplin's movies) in this new plot, the master of the house has a invention that White's Count is interested in buying but has been declined, it makes workers speed up, however when he gets a thief to steal it a police officer overhears and gets the squad over to guard the house, Charlie knows the thief and shows him the house, however after a small fight the machine goes off and blows up the house but no one is badly hurt.
Reception and Legacy
Chaplin wrote a warning the audience of the film studio's deception. Most people found the film a unworthy mess, confusing and lacked flow. The film was the last film of Essanay it would end it's life re-releasing old movies until it closed in 1920. Leo White's friendship with Chaplin was unaffected and White would work for Chaplin until his death.
While a flop some film historians agree that Triple Trouble is a mess but the Life portion shows potential and the movie is seen as a folly in Chaplin's career, he would add it to his Autobiography's Filmography. Today it is added to DVDs of the Essanay Film with the best existing prints used including shots that are missing from others.
Mutual - 1916/17
The Mutual Outtakes
Saved by Film Collector Raymond Rohauer, these outtakes were presented in the Documentary Unknown Chaplin the clips shows Chaplin and his cast laughing or falling over, but then in the clips for The Cure and The Immigrant one sees Chaplin's improvising the original idea before turning the movie on it's head and starting again.
First National Era 1918/23
Chaplin finally had his own studios so might have made the movie as a promotional short for his new contract for First National, this film shows the construction of Studio in Stop Motion and the process of making movies, with Chaplin rehearsing his cast and doing screen-tests, there is a small scene of Charlie and Eric Campbell on the Golf Course which was the later's last appearance in movies before his death. The film was never cut so the rushes were left in the vault until 1959 when Chaplin used scenes in The Chaplin Revue. The film was finally edited and released 1981 by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill.
Made as a Liberty Bond Film the movie teamed up Chaplin with Scottish Music Hall Star Sir Harry Lauder, the film has the men clowning around on the studio and at one moment they recreate the William Tell Gag that Chaplin would use in The Circus (1927). The Short was never finished and so remains without Titles.
The Professor (Rediscovered) - 1919/22
The Professor was a movie that only survived in a reel of footage in the Chaplin archive, the story of the plot was about Chaplin playing Professor Bosco, the Master of a Flea Circus. The short footage came from a period when Chaplin was trying to make short films while creating The Kid, but also he was still in a block so the film was abandoned. Many historians have questioned if the reel was all that was shot every through evidence said that 2 reels existed. However in 2018, files from the Studios in 1922 revealed that Chaplin planned to make The Professor from deleted scenes from Shoulder Arms and Sunnyside with the fragment. The plan had been to release the film and complete Chaplin's contract for First National and then release The Pilgrim for Untied Artist, but it was rejected. So with the rediscovered information The Chaplin Archives reconstructed the film.
The Pilgrim (Original Cut) - 1923
The Pilgrim was the last of Chaplin's First National films also it's his 2nd Feature being four reels long. The plot has Charlie as a escaped convict who steals a preacher's clothes and escapes to Texas where he pretends to be their new Minster. However after being recognized and arrested his good acts beforehand has the Sheriff deciding to free him to Mexico. The film was recut with characters deleted and different takes used for The Chaplin Revue version which is the most common version seen today however original prints still exist showing the changes and this YouTube Video presents the versions in side comparison.
Chaplin's Features 1923/67
A Woman of Paris Mystery Scene - 1923
A Woman of Paris is a Chaplin Movie but there is no Chaplin, the film was made to give Edna Purviance her own career, the film is a Romantic Drama and despite being positively received by Critics, the film bombed at the Box Office, Audiences refused to watch a movie without Chaplin in it. The Film has admires but Chaplin was upset by it's reaction and only in 1976 months before his death did he compose a Film Score and oversee editing. The deleted shots (about 2 minutes worth) are on the DVD release, but at no point is there a scene featuring the dress on the right which was used as the DVD cover. A Google Search has provided the full image but what the scene meant has never been provided by film historians.
A Woman of the Sea - 1926
While making The Circus, Chaplin tried again to give Edna Purviance a leading career, the film only had Chaplin as a Producer, instead the directions was done by Josef von Sternberg. The film's plot had Purviance as the daughter of a Fisherman whose sister runs off with a writer, Edna marries her sister's fiance and has a happy marriage only for the sister to return and to break them up thankfully it fails.
The film named Sea Gulls in production was previewed by Sternberg despite Chaplin refusal to a negative reaction while the film had great cinematography, the plot was empty, Chaplin decided to leave the film unreleased. It remained in the vault until 1933 when the U.S. Internal Revenue Service took a interest in Chaplin, so he ordered that the film's negatives were destroyed as a write-off. Edna would try again with her career without Chaplin starring in the French silent movie Éducation de Prince after which she retired, had a brief yet happy marriage and remained on Chaplin's payroll until her death in 1958.
So does A Woman of the Sea's life ends in ashes? No from archive records there might have been a copy in existence in 1946 but the current Chaplin Archives does not contain a print. But in the Studio records survived the Production Papers and Title Card Script, then in Purviance's family's records was Production Photographs since then a book has been published showing the curious a look at the other missing Chaplin film.
Modern Times - 1936
Modern Times is the last silent film of Chaplin's career it presents the Little Tramp dealing the uncaring modern world, with him stuck in the factory lines, strikes and jail. Thankfully in this film he has a kindred soul in the form of the Gamin who is escaping social workers after her father's death. The film has several scenes cut while some have survived the other if shot have disappeared:
- The existing deleted scenes are a scene has the Tramp struggling with Road signs and the final verse of the Nonsense Song that was cut for the 1950's re-release.
- The first of the missing scenes has Charlie help one of the intruders to the store clear the sliver-wear Chaplin realised that it came off as hypocritical as minutes before the men only claimed for food.
- There was a scene which has the Tramp in uniform joining a army no reason exists to the scenes reason.
- The film was to end on a unhappy note, the Tramp has a breakdown only to find out that the Gamin has become a nun and so he makes his way down the lonely road like he had done many times before. However Chaplin gave up on this ending instead having the Gamin and the Tramp down the road instead hopeful and happy.
The Great Dictator, Original Ending - 1940
This movie has Chaplin playing 2 roles one being Adenoid Hynkel the Hitler parody, the other being a Jewish Barber, who suffered memory loss in the First World War and has no idea of Hynkel's rise to power and the restrictions on the Jewish people. However the Barber's links with an Commander in Hynkel's cabinet helps protect the Ghetto, but after a twist of fate the Barber takes Hynkel's place and rather than go to War he begs the world for peace and brotherhood ending the movie on a high.
The Film received a positive reception, but Chaplin had plans for a different ending which had the Barber dreaming that he said a few words of peace only for the Solders to start dancing however after trying it out Chaplin realised it wasn't working and replaced the ending. If the footage survives it is yet to be found however it survives by being recorded by Chaplin's brother Sydney on his 16mm Camera also in colour giving us not only an idea of the ending but also Chaplin at work.
Limelight, Deleted Scenes - 1952
Limelight was Chaplin's final US Movie, it begins before WW1 having a Drunken clown who has lost his audience saving a Ballerina from suicide and giving her the confidence to be the star. The film was quite biographic with Chaplin's parents being the inspiration for the leads. The film is Chaplin's longest at nearly 2 hours 30 minutes so several scripted ideas had to be removed:
- Terry was going to have flashbacks of her childhood and her mother.
- There was extra Music Hall Acts planned one of which was going to have a real music hall stars.
- After the Premiere Chaplin cut a scene starring Stapleton Kent as Claudius a man without arms that can do everything with his toes, Chaplin realised the film was too long and Claudius was referred to later in the movie.
Before closing I felt best to close with a Rumour that effects the movie, Buster Keaton a famed silent comedian has a part near the end of the movie but the rumour says that Chaplin felt overshadowed by Keaton and so he cut the best scenes. The truth is Chaplin willingly allowed Keaton to improvise in the scene and also edited to focus more on him. Keaton was overall very happy with his finished scenes and his widow believed that Raymond Rohauer created the rumour, his reputation was known to tell tales.
A Countess from Hong Kong - 1967
This was Chaplin's final movie, the only one in colour, also the only one produced not by Chaplin and to many it's a sad swan song based on a script written in the 1930's it tells the story of Odgen the US ambassador who meets Natasha a Russian Countess who is stateless as she escaped Russia. After she stows away in his cabin he finds a way to get her to Hawaii before his wife boards, she will marry his secretary and be able to have a passport. However after she swims away Odgen meets his wife hopes for a chance for their failing marriage but instead Odgen deals her a divorce agreement and returns to Natasha.
The film suffered from Marlon Brando falling out with both Chaplin who was known for being a perfectionist and Sophia Loren whom he insulted before a love scene. Chaplin has a small scene as a old steward with seasickness. The final film was a flop in the US and UK but it did better in Europe and Japan also the Theme "This Is My Song" was a No 1 hit earning the money back.
The film however suffered from editing beyond Chaplin's control with Universal cutting 15 minutes after the premiere, the scenes allegedly were very important to the finished movie according to Chaplin but while the film has a cult following it offers the odd joke to the end of a great career.