Behind the Screen (1916)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Showbiz Comedy, Slapstick  |   Run Time - 23 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Mark Pittillo

In early 1916, Charles Chaplin signed a contract with the Mutual Film Company to produce 12 two-reel comedies for $10,000 a week, an unprecedented amount of money at the time. Over the next 16 months, Chaplin churned out twelve little masterpieces that represent perhaps the height of his artistry, and together made up, according to Chaplin, "the happiest time of my career." Behind the Screen is the seventh Chaplin Mutual, and one of the funniest. Like the others, it is a sublime combination of the fast-paced (and often violent and nihilistic) slapstick of Chaplin's Keystone period with touches of the gentle pathos that would dominate his later career. Chaplin had previously used a behind-the-scenes setting in A Film Johnnie (1914), but here the idea is more refined, and the skillfully choreographed set pieces more dazzling. Produced, written, directed, and scored by Chaplin, the film also features beloved Chaplin regulars Edna Purviance and Eric Campbell in plum roles. Behind the Screen also contains Chaplin's only recorded pie fight.