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Charlie Chaplin





Essanay, 1915. Directed by Charlie Chaplin.  Camera:  R.H. Totheroh.  With Charlie Chaplin, Ben Turpin, Edna Purviance, Fred Goodwins, Bud Jamison, Leo White.

Charlie and Ben have been trying to drink the town dry.  When Charlie returns to his hotel, he is not sober enough to know where he is. He goes up to the desk, tries to put his foot on a phantom brass rail and drink the ink.  When he finally gets to his room it is still early evening, but he prepares for bed.  He solves the problem of hanging up his coat, which has continually fallen to the floor, by absent-mindedly thrusting it through the window. It falls to the sidewalk below.

Across the hall a dog seizes the slipper of a young married lady (Edna Purviance) and runs with it into Charlie's room.  Then comes the charming young wife in her pajamas, pursuing the dog.  Both the dog and Edna hide under Charlie's bed.  The husband tries to find Edna and, while he is downstairs, she slips back into her room.  But Charlie follows her, gets into bed, and promptly goes to sleep. He is discovered by the husband and is chased.  Ben finds Charlie on the street and they go from one café to another.

The irate husband turns out to be the headwaiter at one of them.  Charlie throws a custard pie at a Frenchman, washes in the fountain, and is thrown out.  Again at the hotel, Charlie knocks at the door of the young wife.  Her husband opens the door.  Under his threatening, stare Charlie retreats to his own room, packs his suitcase, and realizing that escape is the better part of valor, leaves the hotel.

A Night Out was made at the Essanay Studio in Niles, California, although some of the scenes were shot in Oakland.  Chaplin drew upon some of the material used in Mabel's Strange Predicament for the hotel sequences.  In prints of the film as now shown, re-edited with a musical sound track, the sequence of events seems to have been altered.

Edna Purviance was introduced to the screen in A Night Out.  Born in Paradise Valley, Nevada, she was then nineteen years of age.  Work on A Night Out had been held up because a suitable leading lady had not been found.  When a young cowboy actor said he had frequently seen a very pretty girl in a San Francisco restaurant, Chaplin immediately arranged for an interview.  The old fan magazines used to tell the story, although it probably was not true, that four hours later Edna Purviance was standing before a motion picture camera for the first time in her life.  This beautiful actress proved to be amazingly adaptable. Whether she played a waif, a woman of wealth, a country girl, or a most alluring Carmen, she was the perfect leading lady for Chaplin, often providing a center of tranquility in a world of comic madness.  She played in every film he made from 1915 through 1923, except in the womanless One A. M. and His New Job.

What was said about A Night Out:

"Chaplin goes out with his friend, Ben Turpin, for an evening's entertainment, and the fun is certainly fast and furious.  The sight of these two disreputable tramps mixing with the company in a gorgeous restaurant and behaving in a manner which would not be tolerated in an East-end bar house, is sufficiently amusing in itself, and by disregarding any pretense at realism adds to the absurdity and enjoyment of a humor that is extravagant to the last degree.  Chaplin appears in the old familiar costume, and does all the old familiar business, some of which might well be spared, but most of which is rendered even funnier by its constant repetition.  The ease and apparent lack of effort with which Chaplin works his quaint tricks show him to be a very conscientious and hard-working actor in his own peculiar line."

The Cinema
"The hero (Chaplin) is magnificently and consistently drunk from first to last.  Accompanied by his knock-about partner, Ben Turpin, he sets out to test the limits of a stupendous thirst...This film gives Chaplin full elbow room for many extraordinary antics and touches of humorous detail, and the fun runs along at top speed.  There is little or no actual plot, Charlie having very wisely been given his head, and we should imagine that, at the finish of the production, it was a very sore head.  Turpin makes an excellent partner, and takes many a stunning knockout blow with paralytic indifference."

The Films of Charlie Chaplin,
by Gerald McDonald, Michael
Conway and Mark Ricci
Bonanza Books, New York 1965