Sir Charles Chaplin was a small man (5' 5"), but he was a giant of the silver screen for many decades. After his initial success, Chaplin wrote, directed and starred in all of his shorts and feature films. He even composed soundtrack music for some (Chaplin's best-known song is "Smile"). Charlie married four times. Three of his wives were 17 or younger on their wedding days.
Chaplin had problems at his first film company, Keystone Studios. The frantic-paced Mack Sennett comedic style disagreed with him, and Chaplin resented taking direction from his first leading lady, co-star Mabel Normand. It was at Keystone however where Charlie's Little Tramp character had its genesis. At first humorless and mean-spirited, over time and with experimentation, Charlie was able to humanize the Tramp and make him a sympathetic, lovable figure.
In a single year, Chaplin made 35 shorts at Keystone. He was directing by his 12th production. In 1915 Charlie moved on to Essanay. Over the next few years there would be other changes of base for him along with salary increases with each new association. By 1918, Chaplin had his own production outfit along with a company of regular supporting players. The 51 shorts and features in this DVD set encompass these early years.
"One A.M." - Here Charlie carries the movie alone; no other performers, beyond a cameo of a cab driver at the outset.
"Kid Auto Races At Venice" - In his second film Charlie begins to define the Tramp concept, when a sophisticate disguises himself as a vagabond.
"The Immigrant" - The scene of Chaplin kicking an Immigration officer was used in 1952 as evidence that he was anti-American-- he was ultimately forced to leave the U.S.
"The Kid" - Little Jackie Coogan almost steals this one. There's a remarkably surreal scene near this feature's conclusion, when Charlie falls asleep on his tenement doorstep and all the dingyness around him transforms into a Bowery version of heaven, complete with winged angels.
"The Tramp" - Nicely circular. This moving story opens with Charlie walking a dusty country road. He hears a commotion, investigates and rescues a girl from three hobos. She takes him home to work as a farmhand, a job he fails at miserably. The three hobos reappear; Charlie defends the girl again. When his beloved's true love arrives the Little Fellow realizes he must depart. He writes a note of farewell and is last seen walking the unpaved road again.
The BUSTER KEATON COLLECTION - 15 Shorts, 5 Movies is another terrific St. Clair DVD box set. It has a few sound films, as well as silent classics, like "The General."
Parenthetical numbers preceding titles are 1 to 10 viewer poll ratings gathered at a film resource website.
(6.4) The Bank (silent-1915) - CC/Edna Purviance/Carl Stockdale
(7.0) Behind The Screen (silent-1916) - CC/Eric Campbell/Edna Purviance
(5.5) Between Showers (silent-1914) - CC/Ford Sterling/Chester Conklin
(6.0) Burlesque On Carmen (silent-1916) - CC/Edna Purviance/Ben Turpin
(5.3) A Busy Day (silent-1914) - CC/Mack Swain (uncredited actors: Billy Gilbert/Mack Sennett)
(5.8) By The Sea (silent-1915) - CC/Billy Armstrong/Edna Purviance
(5.5) Caught In A Cabaret (silent-1014) - CC/Mabel Normand/Chester Conklin/Edgar Kennedy
(5.7) The Champion (silent-1915) - CC/Edna Purviance/Ben Turpin (minor role)
(5.4) Charlie's Recreation ("Tango Tangles") (silent-1914) - CC/Ford Sterling/Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle/Chester Conklin/Minta Durfee
(5.4) Cruel, Cruel Love (silent-1914) - CC/Edgar Kennedy/Minta Durfee/Eva Nelson
(7.3) The Cure (silent-1917) - CC/Edna Purviance/Eric Campbell
(6.7) A Day's Pleasure (silent-1919) - CC/Edna Purviance/Jackie Coogan
(5.7) Dough and Dynamite (silent-1914) - CC/Chester Conklin/Cecile Arnold/Vivian Edwards/Edgar Kennedy/Slim
(7.8) Easy Street (silent-1917) - CC/Edna Purviance/Eric Campbell
(5.2) The Face On The Bar Room Floor (silent-1914) - CC/Cecile Arnold/Chester Conklin
(5.9) A Fair Exchange ("Getting Acquainted") (silent-1914) - CC/Phyllis Allen/Mack Swain/MabelNormand/Edgar Kennedy
(5.6) The Fatal Mallet (silent-1914) - CC/Mabel Normand/Mack Sennett/Mack Swain
(5.5) A Film Johnnie (silent-1914) - CC/Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle/Mabel Normand/Ford Sterling/Billy Gilbert (uncredited)
(6.3) The Fireman (silent-1916) - CC/Edna Purviance/Lloyd Bacon/Eric Campbell
(6.8) The Floorwalker (silent-1916) - CC/Eric Campbell/Edna Purviance
(???) The Good-for-Nothing (silent- ?) - CC (no data available)
(5.1) His Favorite Pastime (silent-1914) - CC/Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle/Billy Gilbert (uncredited)
(6.2) His New Job (silent-1915) - CC/Ben Turpin/Charlotte Mineau/Leo White
(7.9) The Immigrant (silent-1917) - CC/Edna Purviance/Eric Campbell
(5.7) In The Park (silent-1915) - CC/Edna Purviance/Leo White
(8.1) The Kid (silent-1921) - CC/Edna Purviance/Jackie Coogan
(5.8) Kid Auto Races at Venice (silent-1914) - Charles Chaplin
(5.7) The Knockout (silent-1914) - CC (in support)/Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle/Minta Durfee/Edgar Kennedy
(5.6) Laughing Gas (silent-1914) - CC/Fritz Schade/Slim Summerville/Mack Swain
(5.2) The Landlady's Pet ("The Star Boarder") (silent-1914) - CC/Minta Durfee/Edgar Kennedy
(5.5) Mabel's Married Life (silent-1914) - CC/Mabel Normand/Mack Swain/Al St. John
(5.2) Mabel's Strange Predicament (silent-1914) - CC/Mabel Normand/Chester Conklin/Al St. John
(5.5) Making A Living (silent-1914) - CC/Virginia Kirtley/Chester Conklin
(5.8) The Masquerader (silent-1914) - CC/Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle/Chester Conklin
(5.8) Musical Tramp ("His Musical Career") (silent-1914) - CC/Mack Swain/Charley Chase
(5.6) The New Janitor (silent-1914) - CC/Jess Dandy/John T. Dillon/Al St. John
(6.4) A Night In The Show (silent-1915) - CC/Edna Purviance/Charlotte Mineau
(6.0) A Night Out (silent-1915) - CC/Ben Turpin/Bud Jamison/Edna Purviance
(7.5) One A.M. (silent-1916) - CC/Albert Austin
(6.6) Police (silent-1916) - CC/Edna Purviance/Wesley Ruggles
(5.2) Recreation (silent-1914) - CC/Charles Bennett
(7.1) The Rink (silent-1916) - CC/Edna Purviance/James T. Kelley
(5.3) The Rival Mashers ("Those Love Pangs") (silent-1914) - CC/Chester Conklin
(6.1) The Rounders (silent-1914) - CC/Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle/Al St. John
(6.2) Shanghaied (silent-1915) - CC/Edna Purviance/Wesley Ruggles
(6.8) Sunnyside (silent-1919) - CC/Edna Purviance/Tom Wilson
(7.0) The Tramp (silent-1915) - CC/Edna Purviance/Ernest Van Pelt
(5.6) Twenty Minutes Of Love (silent-1914) - CC/Minta Durfee/Edgar Kennedy/Chester Conklin
(6.9) The Vagabond (silent-1916) - CC/Edna Purviance/Eric Campbell/Leo White
(6.4) A Woman (silent-1915) - CC/Edna Purviance/Charles Inslee
(6.3) Work (silent-1915) - CC/Charles Inslee/Edna Purviance
Disc 1: Charlie Chaplin Stunt Reel
Disc 2: Evolution of the Tramp
Disc 3: Charlie Chaplin Bio