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Chaplin's Mutual Comedies
 
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Copyright © 1999-2014 by Carl Bennett
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The Immigrant
(1917)
 

Charles Chaplin was delighted when he began fulfilling his 1916 contract with the Mutual Film Corporation, 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

2006 Image Entertainment DVD edition

The Chaplin Mutual Comedies (1916-1917), black & white, 301 minutes total, not rated,
including The Immigrant (1917), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Film Preservation Associates, distributed by Image Entertainment, ID2477DSDVD, UPC 0-14381-24772-5.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, four single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, plastic trays in cardboard wrapper box (reissued in four-disc DVD keepcase), $59.99.
DVD release date: 11 July 2006.
Country of origin: USA
This new edition of the twelve Chaplin Mutual contract films features new video transfers from premium 35mm prints, including additional footage and quality improvements from film materials which have surfaced since David Shepard’s earlier laserdisc and DVD editions.

The presentations include new orchestral scores composed and conducted by Carl Davis.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
1997 Image Entertainment DVD edition

The Chaplin Mutuals, Volume 1 (1917), black & white, 100 minutes total, not rated,
including The Immigrant (1917), black & white, ? minutes, not rated.

Film Preservation Associates, distributed by Image Entertainment, ID4100DSDVD, UPC 0-14381-41002-0.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? 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.
DVD release date: 19 November 1997.
Country of origin: USA
We have not seen this DVD. We have seen the program material in its corresponding laserdisc edition. Upon viewing the DVD versions, our expectation will be that each of the three DVDs in this set of 12 Chaplin Mutual comedies will be identical or slightly improve upon the laserdisc box edition of 1995. That box set marked the third time all of 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.
2007 Grapevine Video DVD edition

The Tong-Man (1914), color-toned black & white, 60 minutes, not rated,
with The Immigrant (1917), black & white, 21 minutes, not rated.

Grapevine Video, no catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD-R disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 6 chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $16.95.
DVD release date: February 2007.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 6 / audio: 5 / additional content: 5 / overall: 5.

This budget edition has been prepared from a very-good 16mm reduction print of the sound-film version synchronized to music by Winston Sharples with goofy sound effects.

 
This Region 0 NTSC DVD-R edition is available directly from GRAPEVINE VIDEO.
Other silent era CHARLES CHAPLIN films available on home video.

Other SHORT COMEDY FILMS of the silent era available on home video.

Charles Chaplin filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
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