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The Chaplin Collection
The Chaplin Collection
Actor: Charles Chaplin
Genres: Classics, Comedy, Drama, Television
NR     2002     4hr 40min


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Movie Details

Actor: Charles Chaplin
Genres: Classics, Comedy, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Silent Films, Comedy, Drama, Television
Studio: Madacy Records
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 07/30/2002
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 4hr 40min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 2
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Wow - what a piece of junk!
Mark Pollock | Davis, CA United States | 11/07/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)

"First of all, this review is only for the Madacy dvd set "The Chaplin Collection". Wow, is this bad. You get 18 short films, all in incredibly terrible quality, with music that has nothing to do with the films or the era in which they were made. I cannot overstate how bad the quality of these films is. Recreation is actually unwatchable, it appears that somebody spilled their milkshake on the poor-quality 8mm film dub that they had, then put it on dvd anyways.All the films are missing portions of their footage, some to the point that they are meaningless. But it gets worse, because Madacy has given us a biography - two whole paragraphs. The description on the box is longer than the biography on the dvds! (My favorite bit of mis-information is that Chaplin started acting at age 9 with a dog-dancing group. It's called clog-dancing. Why the heck would Chaplin, who was human [although it's hard to tell from some of these prints] be dancing on stage with dogs?)And there is also a trivia feature! Five whole questions, perfect for those who understand broken english and completely inaccurate trivia. (It states that Chaplin made 27 films - that is true, but he made many more after that!)But the best part is that Madacy, after having put next to no effort into getting good copies of these films, puts on several chunks of high-tech computer animation beforehand, giving us their logo and presenting them as a worthy group to patronize! This set may be cheap initially, but the you will end up paying much more in trips to the eye-doctor and therapist. Don't buy it. It's not worth it. Not even if you are desperate."
Twelve 1914 Chaplins At Less Than A Dollar Each!
Daryl Stenhouse | LAUNCESTON, TAS Australia | 08/16/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)

"In 1914 Chaplin was involved in 35 films for the Keystone Studio. Restorer David Shepard once said that there were only eight films from Chaplin's Keystone year that were in good enough condition to warrant restoration work, therefore he decided to start his Chaplin project (published by Image Entertainment) at 1915, Chaplin's Essanay period. Four of the good Keystone films are available on a Kino video, but only one of those four is featured in this Madacy collection. That means that eleven of the 1914 Chaplin films in this set cannot be found on any of the high-class Image or Kino releases. The poor quality of the surviving prints has made them unattractive to those high-quality publishers, so the only way you'll see them is if you buy unimproved copies from public-domain publishers like Madacy. In other words, don't complain about the poor quality of the pictures - public-domain publishers make available many early films which would otherwise not be available at all. In fact, there is one which has all 34 surviving films available, in four volumes - and I've heard on the grapevine that he is about to retire, and close his business!Here is a list of the films contained in the Madacy Chaplin Collection (two discs): Charlot, Garcon de Theatre (a.k.a. The Property Man, released 1st Aug 1914); The Musical Tramp (a.k.a. His Musical Career, 7th Nov 1914); Charlot et Mabel aux Courses (a.k.a. Gentlemen of Nerve, 29th Oct 1914); Recreation (THE example of a print not worth restoring, 13th Aug 1914); Cruel Love (actually Cruel, Cruel Love, a.k.a. Lord Helpus, 26th March 1914); A Film By Johnny (actually A Film Johnny, 2nd March 1914); Triple Trouble (more like Triple Theft! An infamous concoction by Essanay of material from two shorts (Work, and Police) and a feature which Essanay would not allow Chaplin to complete. They shot some linking footage without Chaplin and "found" the "forgotten" film in 1918!); The Good for Nothing (a.k.a. His New Profession, 31st Aug 1914); Charlie's Recreation (a.k.a. Tango Tangle, 9th March 1914 - no moustache here, and Fatty Arbuckle and Ford Sterling fight over Fatty's real-life wife, Minta Durfee); Work (21st June 1915, marred by a talkover); A Busy Day (a.k.a. The Militant Suffragette, 7th June 1914. Lost until 1970, this film has Charlie in drag!); Police (27th March 1916); The Bond (rare - this 1918 "help the war effort" film was not included in Image's First National DVD!); Kid Auto Races at Venice (8th Feb 1914, an unexpected gem - Charlie uses his famous tramp costume for the first time, but not as a tramp. All the usual mannerisms are missing, as he plays a camera hog getting in the way of a newsreel crew! The title cards are later additions, as Charlie was unknown when this film was released, and they spoil the intended effect, that the film should seem like an ordinary newsreel); The Rival Mashers (a.k.a. Those Love Pangs, 10th Oct 1914); The Night Out (actually A Night Out, 15th Feb 1915); Dough and Dynamite (26th Aug 1914); A Jitney Elopement (1st April 1915).I'm happy with this DVD set because the poor quality prints were what I expected, and I was pleasantly surprised to find so many 1914 films included. I think it is worth buying just for Kid Auto Races at Venice!"
Don't buy it
yaremar | 12/27/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Don't buy this DVD. Poor image quality and terrible soundtrack. Cheap, but you get what you pay for. For good quality Chaplin silent films on DVD, buy The Chaplin Mutuals, Vol. 1, 2, 3, published by Image."
Strictly for completists and serious fans
yaremar | Pilsen, USA | 12/03/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)

"This 2-disc, 18-film collection of Chaplin shorts is a mixed bag that has been garnering equally mixed reviews. Consisting of 12 Keystones, 5 Essanays, and one promotional short, this ragtag assortment may appeal to Chaplin completists who can tolerate the substandard quality of the prints utilized. But for consumers who simply want to sit back and enjoy some funny films, there are much better collections to choose from.

Here's a brief rundown of the titles included in this set:
Disc One
CHARLOT, GARCON DE THEATRE (Original title: THE PROPERTY MAN; Keystone, 1914) Crude but funny Keystone effort set in a vaudeville theater, with Charlie as cantankerous prop man who interferes with many of the acts. This print is in rough shape, but watchable.

MUSICAL TRAMP (Original title: HIS MUSICAL CAREER; Keystone, 1914): Amusing Keystone entry, with Charlie and Mack Swain as inept piano movers. Some claim this film was inspiration for Laurel & Hardy's classic THE MUSIC BOX (1932); there are some similarities, but the L&H film is not a remake of this one. Print quality is only fair.

CHARLOT ET MABEL AUX COURSES (Original title: GENTLEMEN OF NERVE; Keystone, 1914): Middling entry benefits from energetic performances by Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Chester Conklin and Mack Swain, plus the novelty of being filmed at an actual auto race. Print quality is only fair.

RECREATION (Keystone, 1914): Terrible copy of a lame comedy. To add insult to injury, the actors' heads are cropped off, making it nearly impossible to figure out what's going on. The absolute pits.

CRUEL, CRUEL LOVE (listed on the back cover as CRUEL LOVE; Keystone, 1914): An interesting, offbeat early Chaplin effort. Print quality is better than most in this collection...which really isn't saying much.

A FILM JOHNNIE (listed on the back cover as A FILM BY JOHNNY; Keystone, 1914): This isn't one of my favorite Chaplins, although it's difficult to judge it fairly due to the poor quality of this (incomplete) print.

TRIPLE TROUBLE (Essanay, 1918): A couple years after Chaplin left the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, the studio cobbled together this bogus effort by combining newly-shot footage (without Chaplin) with stock footage from WORK and leftover footage Chaplin's uncompleted feature project LIFE. Chaplin fans will want to take a look at the scenes from LIFE (notably a grim comic sequence set in a flophouse), but otherwise, it's a mess. Acceptable print quality.

THE GOOD-FOR-NOTHING (Original title: HIS NEW PROFESSION; Keystone, 1914): One of the funnier Keystone efforts is notable for an early appearance by Charley Chase, though he's wasted here. Acceptable print quality.

CHARLIE'S RECREATION (Original title: TANGO TANGLES; Keystone, 1914): A so-so entry; the main point of interest is seeing Charlie perform sans makeup. Basically a novelty item. Acceptable print quality (compared to others in this collection).

WORK (Essanay, 1915) This print of one of the better Essanay entries is actually an installment from THE CHARLIE CHAPLIN COMEDY THEATRE, a syndicated television series (from 1965) that showcased early Chaplin films. Purists may balk at the presentation (the action is slowed down, with narration and sound effects added), but since I first saw many of the Essanays via this series, this came as a pleasant and nostalgic surprise. Good (but not great) print quality.

Disc Two
THE MILITANT SUFFRAGETTE (Original title: A BUSY DAY; Keystone, 1914): If you're amused by the mere sight of Charlie in drag, then this one was tailor-made for you. However, if you're expecting a plot, characterization, or structured gags, you might want to skip it. Personally, it's one of my least favorite Chaplins. Fair print quality.

POLICE (Essanay, 1916): This is one of Chaplin's best Essanay comedies, although there are better copies in circulation. Still, this was nostalgic viewing for me as it was taken from an old Blackhawk Films print. In the years before home video, Blackhawk made 8mm and 16mm films available to private collectors (myself included). Fair print quality.

THE BOND (Liberty Loan Committee, 1918): This promotional film was used to sell Liberty Bonds during World War I. It's a series of amusing blackout skits dealing with various bonds (friendship, love, marriage), including the most important bond of all: the Liberty Bond. Unfortunately, the print used here is so washed out that the stark black-and-white photography of the original is lost in a sea of murky gray tones.

KID AUTO RACES AT VENICE (Keystone, 1914): This milestone effort introduced Chaplin's Tramp character to movie audiences. It's basically an extended screen test, with Charlie at a children's auto race, ad-libbing in front of the camera. A simple, very funny short. Fair-to-poor print quality; better copies are available on other collections.

RIVAL MASHERS (THOSE LOVE PANGS; Keystone, 1914): Unremarkable Keystone effort benefits from the by-play between Chaplin and Chester Conklin. Fair-to-poor quality print.

A NIGHT OUT (listed on the back cover as THE NIGHT OUT; Essanay, 1915): This is basically a rehash of earlier Keystone antics, but Chaplin and Ben Turpin make an energetic team. A variable but generally good-looking print.

DOUGH AND DYNAMITE (Keystone, 1914): One of Chaplin's best Keystones is unfortunately represented here by a fair-to-poor quality print. A better copy is available on Delta's ESSENTIAL CHARLIE CHAPLIN series.

A JITNEY ELOPEMENT (Essanay, 1915): This is an amusing Essanay comedy, but the print used for this transfer has title cards that are so dark they're unreadable. Another botched presentation.

THE PROPERTY MAN and GENTLEMEN OF NERVE are not generally available on other discs, so diehard Chaplin fans might want to add these titles to their library. I purchased this collection at Best Buy for $7.99, which I suppose is a reasonable price for two discs that I won't be watching very often. However, if you're looking for some of Chaplin's early Keystone, Essanay, and Mutual films at an affordable price, take my advice and spend a few more bucks to get Madacy's other Chaplin set CHAPLIN: THE LEGEND LIVES ON, a 5-disc, 31-film collection. Though the print quality of several titles still leaves a lot to be desired, LEGEND offers a much better assortment of Chaplin's formative work than what's being offered in this carelessly assembled two-disc set.