Archive for January 17, 2021

The Sunday Intertitle: A Thousand a Week

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on January 17, 2021 by dcairns

“I want a thousand dollars a week,” Chaplin told Sennett,

“But *I* don’t make that!” spluttered the showman.

Sennett is sometimes criticised for his inability to hold on to the stars he’d created. But he didn’t hold the purse-strings, was dependent on the money-men, Kessel and Bauman, and anyway, Chaplin made it difficult. He did try to meet Chaplin’s terms:

“Listen, you have four months to go. We’ll tear up your contract and give you five hundred dollars now, seven hundred dollars for the next year, and fifteen hundred for the following year. That way you’ll get your thousand dollars a week.”

(This is all per My Autobography, Chaplin’s largely very accurate, if understandably selective, memoir.)

Chaplin responded: “If you’ll just reverse the terms, give me fifteen hundred the first year, seven hundred the second year, and five hundred the third, I’ll take it.”

“But that’s a crazy idea.”

Chaplin was convinced this craze couldn’t last, that his star would fade. And he had an urgent desire for financial security that made him think short-term. It WAS a crazy idea — he wouldn’t have been happy to take the pay-cuts when they came — but he wanted a thousand dollars a week NOW.

Essanay agreed to his terms, and at the end of his year at Keystone, Chaplin was off to Chicago.