Easy Street (film)

Easy Street is a 1917 short action-comedy film starring and directed by Charlie Chaplin.

Easy Street
Directed byCharles Chaplin
Edward Brewer (technical director)
Produced byHenry P. Caulfield
Written byCharles Chaplin
Vincent Bryan
Maverick Terrell
StarringCharles Chaplin
Edna Purviance
Eric Campbell
CinematographyRoland Totheroh
George C. Zalibra
Edited byCharles Chaplin
Distributed byMutual Film Corporation
Release date
  • January 22, 1917 (1917-01-22)
Running time
19 min USA,
Germany 24 min (restored version)
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent film
English intertitles

Plot

In a slum area called Easy Street, the police are failing to maintain law and order.

The Little Tramp is sleeping rough outside the Hope Mission near the streets of a lawless slum. He is inspired at the mission where there is singing and a sermon from the preacher. His religious "awakening" is inspired by a beautiful young woman who pleads for him to join the mission, holding his hand.

Spotting a help wanted ad for a job at the police station, the Little Tramp accepts and is assigned the rough-and-tumble Easy Street as his beat. Upon entering the street he finds a bully roughing up the locals and pilfering their money. The Little Tramp gets on the wrong side of the bully and following a chase the two eventually come to blows culminating in the Little Tramp inventively using a gas lamp to render the bully unconscious.

The bully is taken away by the police but manages to escape from the station and returns to Easy Street. After a long chase the Little Tramp manages to knock the bully unconscious by dropping a heavy stove on his head from an upstairs window. On returning to his beat on Easy Street the unruly mob knock the Little Tramp unconscious and drop him into a nearby cellar where he manages to save the aforementioned beautiful young woman from a nasty drug addict after accidentally sitting on the drug addict's needle. Supercharged by the effects of the drug he takes on the mob and heroically defeats them all and as a consequence restores peace and order to Easy Street.

By the end of the film, a New Mission is built on Easy Street and the inhabitants flock to it, even including the former bully: now a well-dressed respectable, churchgoing citizen.

Inspiration

It could have been inspired by the similarly named East Street market in the Walworth district of London (where Chaplin is believed to have been born), a suggestion made as early as 1928 in the film 'The Life Story of Charlie Chaplin' by Harry B. Parkinson[1] and reasserted in David Robinson's introduction to the most recent edition of My Autobiography, while the famous trousers and boots of Chaplin's trademark tramp costume may have been drawn from the everyday clothes Chaplin saw worn there.

Review

A reviewer from Variety wrote, "The resultant chaos and several new stunts will be bound to bring the laughter, and the star's display of agility and acrobatics approaches some of the Douglas Fairbanks pranks. Chaplin has always been throwing things in his films, but when he 'eases' a cook stove out of the window onto the head of his adversary on the street below, that pleasant little bouquet adds a new act to his repertory. Easy Street certainly has some rough work in it--maybe a bit rougher than the others--but it is the kind of stuff that Chaplin fans love. In fact, few who see Easy Street will fail to be furnished with hearty laughter."

Cast

Sound version

In 1932, Amedee Van Beuren of Van Beuren Studios, purchased Chaplin's Mutual comedies for $10,000 each, added music by Gene Rodemich and Winston Sharples and sound effects, and re-released them through RKO Radio Pictures. Chaplin had no legal recourse to stop the RKO release.[2]

See also

References


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