Charles Chaplin was delighted when he began fulfilling his 1916 contract with the Mutual Film Company, a distribution outfit that handled the films of many of the top film producers of the time. The contract was the first made with Chaplin’s own production company, which meant that he could produce his comedies with total creative control.
The Mutual comedies show signs of Chaplin maturing as a cinema artist. His Mutual stories became more carefully constructed and less reliant on senseless bash-and-bop slapstick. The gags show flashes of comic brilliance. — Carl Bennett
1997 DVD edition
The Chaplin Mutuals, Volume 1(1917), black & white, 197 minutes total, not rated,
including The Immigrant (1917), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, The Adventurer (1917), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, The Cure (1917), black & white, ? minutes, not rated, and Easy Street (1917), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.
Film Preservation Associates, distributed by Image Entertainment,
ID4100DSDVD, UPC 0-14381-41002-0.
One single-sided, single-layered, Region 0NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in windowboxed 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; snapper DVD case (reissued in standard DVD keepcase), $29.99.
Release date: 19 November 1997.
Country of origin: USA
This early DVD collection of four of the twelve Chaplin Mutual comedies slightly improves upon the previously-released laserdisc boxset edition of 1995, which marked the third time the Mutual films had been released on laserdisc. Each successive edition improved on its predecessor. Picture quality has improved. Each film is more complete in content. And each film is slightly windowboxed to allow the maximum picture area to be seen on all televisions.
That being said, readers have noted that there is surviving footage from these films that does not appear in this home video edition. Our understanding is that most (if not all) of these films have originated from the Van Beuren Company 35mm negatives that were prepared in the 1950s. Those prints featured music by Winston Sharples and synchronized sound effects, and they can be viewed in their 1950s form (transfered at sound speed) on early laserdisc and VHS collections from Image and Republic. While these 35mm negatives feature superior visual quality, portions of the original footage and intertitles were removed in the 1950s. Some early 16mm reduction prints from Blackhawk Films and others, which originated from other surviving positive prints, feature footage that doesn’t appear in this DVD edition. Logic would lead some to assume that this extra footage survives in 35mm prints held by the world’s film archives and by private collectors.
Previously we recommended the now out-of-print The Chaplin Mutuals DVD series with the caveat noted that there was missing footage. David Shepard has now released a new edition of the Chaplin Mutual comedies that are more complete and feature some improvement in visual quality.
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.