Introduction to Chaplin’s Mutual Comedies

Film Review by Dean Duncan Aug 21, 2015

In 1916 and 1917 Charles Chaplin made 12 films for the Mutual Film Corporation. He joined Mutual after his initial apprenticeship with Mack Sennett at Keystone, during which he had come into his own both as a comic actor, and as a filmmaker. A lucrative stretch with the Essanay company followed. Here Chaplin further refined his art, as well as the manner in which he promoted and profited from it. By the time he got to Mutual he was working at a very high level indeed. The Mutual comedies are some of the most important and influential films ever made. A good number of them are also, to this day, some of the very best. Even those that come across as slightly less than immortal have a great deal to recommend them, both as historical documents, and as really funny movies.

A person could do worse than start her entire film education with the Mutuals, and at the end of all her learning she may well feel to go straight back to them. The films are now 100 years old, and the film elements themselves inevitably reflect the fact. However viewers can still find excellent versions of these treasures, restored and remastered, bursting simultaneously with highest art and the most vivid reflections of life. You’ll want to consult releases fromĀ Image Entertainment (2006) and/or Flicker Alley (2014).