Synopsis by Phil Posner
In this comedy documentary begun during the construction of his new studios in 1917, and continued after its completion, Charlie Chaplin gives us a look, however staged, inside the Chaplin workplace. Although never completed by Chaplin, who wanted to use it to help fulfill his First National contract, it was reconstructed in 1982 by scholars Kevin Brownlow and David Gill from material they found at the Chaplin estate. They got the editing continuity from a page of titles they found in the Chaplin archive. Some of the footage was used in 1959 by Chaplin as a prologue to his compilation, The Chaplin Revue, and used again for the documentary on Chaplin, The Gentleman Tramp. The film begins with a stop-action sequence of the studio being built. Then it shows a dapper, 29-year-old Chaplin arriving at work, greeting his staff, reading his fan mail. His butler is instructed to bring his famous costume, which he retrieves from the studio vault. Chaplin is seen rehearsing his cast and coaching a starlet through a screen test. Viewers are taken into the Chaplin Studio laboratory where they're shown how film is developed and processed and see Chaplin at work in the editing room. Then Chaplin is seen dressing in his Tramp costume and applying the famous mustache. A few scenes from an unreleased Mutual follow, showing Chaplin,Eric Campbell and Albert Austin on the golf links. Ideas from these sequences were later used for Chaplin's The Idle Class. This would be Chaplin's final pairing with Campbell who died in an auto accident soon after filming. At the end of the work day Chaplin bids viewers 'Au Revoir." How To Make Movies offers a rare glimpse inside Chaplin's studio, and although he was always guarded about revealing his working methods, it gives viewers the feeling of those exciting, creative days.
archival-footage, behind-the-scenes, film-clips, film-director, filmmaker, film-studio