Archive for The Adventurer

The Monday Intertitle: Brave

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on December 7, 2015 by dcairns

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Sometimes the Sunday Intertitle switches to Monday. Because consistency is the hobgoblin of small men, and I am large, I contain multitudes of those guys.

Chaplin’s THE ADVENTURER counts as a late film (his last?) for Eric Campbell, the outsize fake Scotsman. In fact, Campbell’s entire career is late, compressing enough varied villainy into just a couple of years to ensure his screen legend status for eternity, or what we can anticipate of eternity.

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As a kid, I instantly loved Chaplin, because he was something like a cheeky kid himself, and I loved Campbell because he was big and operatic. After his early death, Chaplin never really replaced him, and in a way this sent Chaplin into more realistic storylines. No story containing Campbell’s eyebrows, even without the optional Svengali beard, could ever be realistic.

THE ADVENTURER tells its story briskly, with minimal titles — generally they set up a scene in a few words, then let it play out as pure knockabout. Big Eric is introduced showing off his muscles to Edna Purviance (that NAME! oh dear), then soon everyone has fallen in the water, to be rescued by an escaped convict in stolen swimwear (Chaplin). In wet trousers we see what an enormous arse Eric has. No wonder he successfully passed himself off as a Scotsman for so long.

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Thanks to all who participated in, and read, The Late Show late Films Blogathon this year! The world’s smallest blogathon just got smaller.

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The St Andrew’s Day Intertitle

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on December 2, 2013 by dcairns

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Finding intertitles from late movies to write about for the blogathon is always an interesting task. This one is from THE ADVENTURER, and it qualifies because this 1917 Chaplin short is the last appearance — or one of the last, he made four films that year — of Chaplin heavy Eric Campbell.

Chaplin never did find anyone to replace Campbell, although this arguably pushed his plots into more adventurous terrain. Soon after this, the leading lady stops being automatically Edna Purviance, and stops being a stock figure. The villains become a more variegated bunch, and the days of “a park, a pretty girl and a policeman” are over, in favour of more ambitious and sprawling narratives.

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THE ADVENTURER is much more sophisticated than any Keystone knockabout, but it’s still a very tight and simple farce, with Chaplin as escaped convict wooing Edna while trying to avoid the clutches (and truncheons) of the law and the machinations of music hall cad Campbell.

This same year, Campbell, who had a history of drunk driving, finally removed himself from the silent comedy gene pool in an auto smash. His ashes remained unclaimed for thirty-five years, and ended up in an unmarked grave somewhere at Rosedale Cemetery.

He’s an interesting figure. Kevin Macdonald made a documentary about him, CHAPLIN’S GOLIATH, predicated largely on Campbell’s status as a Scottish immigrant to Hollywood and funded by Scottish TV. Part of the film shows the placement of a memorial in the town of Dunoon, Campbell’s claimed birthplace.

But it turns out Campbell wasn’t from Scotland at all. He just liked to say he was.

He apparently thought it sounded more glamorous than Cheshire, or more in tune with the image of the burly, tough hard-drinking lummox. One wonders how Macdonald could avoid stumbling across this fact at some point in the course of making his extensively researched 54-minute film…

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It can at least be said that Campbell went out on a high, with THE ADVENTURER, THE IMMIGRANT, THE CURE and EASY STREET all appearing in that last year. Any one of them would ensure him glowering, mad-eyed immortality.

Charlie Chaplin – The Mutual Films volume 2 (1916) [DVD]

Charlie Chaplin – Essanay & Mutual 3-Disc Steelbook Collection [DVD]

Charlie Chaplin Short Comedy Classics – The Complete Restored Essanay & Mutual Collection