TRIPLE TROUBLE (1918) – A fake Charlie Chaplin film starring Charlie Chaplin

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Triple Trouble is a hodgepodge that Essanay threw together long after Chaplin had departed from them. It’s made up of footage from the Chaplin/Essanay shorts Police and Work, plus some material for Life, a planned Essanay feature film that Chaplin never got off the ground.

All of this is “connected” with new footage directed by and starring Leo White as a count who tries to buy the rights to a new wireless explosive from its creator, Col. Nutt. Needless to say, the “new” story is relevant to nothing.

The most interesting activities involved in watching Triple Trouble are:

* Watching the editing carefully. At one point, Charlie throws some trash over a fence in 1915, only to throw it over Leo White’s head in 1918.

* Trying to puzzle out what Life would have been like. The extant footage here shows Charlie bedding down for the night in a seedier-than-usual flophouse. The upside is seeing a couple of “throwaway” gags that Chaplin would embellish and improve a few years later in The Gold Rush.

The downside is watching Chaplin’s early attempt at social commentary. At one point, an obviously mentally ill flophouse visitor is rambling on in the middle of the night, much to the detriment of those around him who are trying to sleep. Chaplin’s idea of a rich gag is to make up the man’s bed, conk him on the head with a bottle, and then tuck him in and kiss him goodnight. It’s the kind of cheap gag that Chaplin would later eschew for more thoughtful characterization.

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