The Masquerader (1914)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Slapstick  |   Run Time - 16 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Charlie Chaplin's 24th short for the Keystone company is a film about making films at Keystone. It is unusual in that we see Chaplin the actor, Charlie the Tramp, and Chaplin's second female impersonation in a film. The film opens outside the Keystone Studio where Chaplin, in street clothes, is talking to Mabel Normand and a reporter, who is writing on a pad. Charlie Murray emerges and grabs Chaplin by the ear and drags him inside -- it's time for work. Murray leaves Chaplin at the dressing room where Fatty Arbuckle is also preparing for work. Chaplin begins by brushing off his Tramp pants. Seated at a dressing table across from Arbuckle he hears Fatty open a beer bottle and tries to sneak a swig, but Fatty substitutes his hair tonic instead. Meanwhile, on the stage, Murray is rehearsing a melodramatic scene with two actors. Chaplin is now in costume as the Tramp. On the set, Charlie misses his entrance because he is flirting with two lovely actresses, and he messes up the scene. He is replaced by fellow actor Chester Conklin, but interferes with Chester's entrance and is chased out of the studios. The next day a "Beautiful Stranger" appears -- it's Charlie in drag, and his female impersonation is perfect. He immediately attracts the attentions of every male in the company, especially director Murray. Murray tries to make time with the stranger and hires her to act in films. He gives her the men's dressing room, amid the objections of all the actors. While Murray's back is turned, Charlie lets us in on the gag by winking at the camera and later takes a very unladylike drag on Murray's cigarette. Alone, Charlie removes his disguise, and resumes his Tramp outfit. When the director comes looking for his new actress, he finds Charlie and discovers his deception. He chases Charlie through the various film sets until Charlie jumps into what he thinks is a prop well. It turns out to be a real one, and the film closes as Murray and the actors mock Charlie as he struggles, sinking, at the bottom of the well.

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Keywords

actor, costume, drag [cross-dressing], filmmaker, rehearsal, beer