National Society of Film Critics Film Heritage Award
Chaplin At Keystone (1927)
Charles Chaplin came to Mack Sennett’s Keystone Studios late in 1913 as a little-known British vaudevillian, and after a year, had not only established his Tramp character, learned to write and direct his own films, and also achieved public recognition as a star comedian. Although Keystone did not publicize its performers by name, standees of Chaplin's likeness outside theatres sufficed to attract audiences. Some of the films, especially Tillie's Punctured Romance, remained in theatrical distribution for decades.
The fact that all but one of the Chaplin Keystones exist is due, of course, to the star’s enormous subsequent popularity. Most of the original Keystone negatives, however, were simply printed away and the survival of all but a few of these films depends upon a very few original prints, a larger number of reissue prints, and some duped prints from later years. With the support of Association Chaplin (Paris), 35mm full aperture, early-generation materials were gathered over an eight year search on almost all the films from archives and collectors around the world, and were painstakingly pieced together and restored by the British Film Institute National Archive, the Cineteca Bologna and its laboratory L’Immagine Ritrovata in Italy, and Lobster Films in Paris. Most are now clear, sharp and rock-steady, although some reveal that their source prints are well-used and a handful survives only in 16mm. While admitting these limitations, one can now understand Chaplin's meteoric rise, for it is possible for the first time in generations to see clearly what clever and imaginative films he made at Keystone.
Flicker Alley is proud to present the world debut of Chaplin at Keystone, a 4-DVD boxed set. These editions feature all-new musical settings by outstanding practitioners of silent film accompaniment Eric Beheim, Neil Brand, Antonio Coppola, Frederick Hodges, Stephen Horne, Robert Israel, Rodney Sauer and The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, Ethan Uslan, and Ken Winokur's band Tillie’s Nightmare with the UCLA Film and Television Archive restoration of Tillie's Punctured Romance.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES
An extensive booklet provides an overview of the importance of the Chaplin Keystone comedies and detailed notes on the individual films by film historian and author Jeffrey Vance (Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema). Inside the Keystone Project is a short documentary detailing the international restoration efforts; historian John Bengtson takes a "then and now" look at several Keystone film locations in a 10 minute filmed tour based on his book Silent Traces. There is also a short excerpt from A Thief Catcher, recently-discovered by Paul E. Gierucki, with Chaplin as a Keystone Cop; along with the animated Charlie's White Elephant, and a gallery of rare photographs..