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Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2017 by Carl Bennett
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Triple Trouble
(1918)

 

Charles Chaplin began working for his second motion picture employer, the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company in Chicago, early in 1915, with the resulting production, His New Job (1915), being his only film made in Chicago. Chaplin was then allowed to move his production unit to the Essanay studio at Niles (today a neighborhood of Fremont), California, where his earliest films from 1915 were made. By the end of 1915, Chaplin had again moved his unit to southern California, where he was somewhat autonomously in control of his productions.

Triple Trouble (1918) is a faux Chaplin short, assembled by Essanay from unreleased footage shot in 1915 for an unfinished short and for Chaplin’s unfinished Essanay feature-length comedy Life (some of which was utilized in Police! [1916]) and new footage directed in 1918 by Chaplin’s 1915 supporting player, Leo White. In the cobbled together film, the cook character is obviously played by a different actor in the 1918 bridging shots from Billy Armstrong, the original 1915 actor. All the nonsense about inventor Colonel A. Nutt, his daughter Hazel, the diplomats from Prezelstrasse, and the “wireless explosive” are new to the Leo White-directed expansion of the Chaplin footage. And, hey, what is the point of a hunchbacked policeman, Leo? Is that funny?

One might ask, why Essanay couldn’t have cut this silly film as a one reeler? The whole Leo White affair is an embarrassingly stupid framework around Chaplin’s abandoned footage. The reality is the film was padded to two reels to sell against Chaplin’s Mutual two-reelers (still in circulation in 1918) and his new films being produced under his First National contract — all in order to pull some much-needed cash into the failing Essanay company. Chaplin was still developing a well-defined comedic style. His earlier Essanay films depended to greater or lesser degree on comedic themes established at Keystone Film Company. — Carl Bennett

Image Entertainment
1999 DVD edition

Chaplin’s Essanay Comedies Volume 3 (1915-1918), black & white and color-toned black & white, 131 minutes total, not rated,
including Triple Trouble (1918), black & white, 23 minutes, not rated.

Film Preservation Associates, distributed by Image Entertainment,
ID5415DSDVD, UPC 0-14381-54152-6.
One single-sided, dual-layered, Region 0 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, 6.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops; snapper DVD case (released in standard DVD keepcase), $24.99.
Release date: 28 September 1999.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 7 / audio: 7 / additional content: 7 / overall: 7.

Some shots in this edition of Triple Trouble (1918), such as the one beginning 10:31 into the film or the robbery sequence beginning at 19:23, appear to be from a 16mm reduction print. A shot has been inserted, beginning at 20:14, that is not in 16mm prints we have viewed. Most of the video transfer here is from a very-good 35mm print. Whether it is the source print or the original photography, the butler’s head is cut off when he introduces Charlie to the cook.

The main titles in this edition have been assembled in video from another Essanay Chaplin film, so they are not original to the source print.

The film is accompanied by a piano performance by Eric James that is abruptly edited in places.

 
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.
Madacy Entertainment
1999 DVD edition

Chaplin: Collector’s Choice Double Feature (1914-1918), black & white, 91 minutes total, not rated,
including Triple Trouble (1918), black & white, 24 minutes, not rated.

Madacy Entertainment Group, DVD9 9103, UPC 0-56775-03619-5.
One double-sided, single-layered, Region 1 NTSC DVD disc, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, 3 Mbps average video bit rate, 448 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 3 chapter stops; standard DVD keepcase, $11.98.
Release date: 2 March 1999.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 3 / audio: 4 / additional content: 1 / overall: 3.

This edition has been transferred from a good latter-day 16mm reduction print, with new intertitles, that at least holds much of its shadow details, even in some of its darkest sections.

Not a horrible viewing experience — heaven knows there are plenty of bad-looking prints of Chaplin’s early films, but we recommend instead the Image edition of Triple Trouble to all viewers

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Madacy Entertainment
1999 DVD edition

Chaplin (1914-1918), black & white, ? minutes total, not rated,
including Triple Trouble (1918), black & white, 24 minutes, not rated.

Madacy Entertainment Group, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Two single-sided, single-layered, Region 1 NTSC DVD discs, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 3 chapter stops; two-disc standard DVD keepcase, unknown suggested retail price.
Release date: 1999.
Country of origin: USA
A repackaging of the same Madacy DVD program reviewed above was also issued under a different title and on two discs, with a slipcase wraparound, as Chaplin: Hollywood Classics.

No doubt, just as rough.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Madacy Entertainment
1998 DVD edition

Chaplin: The Collection (1914-1918), black & white, ? minutes total, not rated,
including Triple Trouble (1918), black & white, 24 minutes, not rated.

Madacy Entertainment Group, unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number.
Five single-sided, single-layered, Region 1 NTSC DVD discs, 1.33:1 aspect ratio image in full-frame 4:3 (720 x 480 pixels) interlaced scan MPEG-2 format, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 3 chapter stops; five standard DVD keepcases in cardboard slipcase, unknown suggested retail price.
Release date: 1998.
Country of origin: USA

Yet another Madacy repackaging — this a box set — of the content reviewed above.

Have they no shame in their repackaging attempts to deceive the consumer?

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
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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