Behind the Screen (1916) 720p

Movie Poster
Behind the Screen (1916) - Movie Poster
Short | Comedy
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
English 2.0  
Run Time:
24 min
IMDB Rating:
7.0 / 10 
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Directors: Charles Chaplin [Director] ,

Movie Description:
Three movies are being shot simultaneously and Charlie is an overworked scene shifter. The foreman is waited on hand and foot until all the shifters but Charlie go on strike. A girl looking for work pretends to be a man and helps Charlie. Charlie discovers her gender and falls in love with her. The foreman thinks they are homosexual and in the ensuing fight they become involved in a long pie throwing scene from one of the movies in production. The frustrated workers dynamite the studio.


  • Behind the Screen (1916) - Movie Scene 1
  • Behind the Screen (1916) - Movie Scene 2
  • Behind the Screen (1916) - Movie Scene 1

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Iconic but problematic

Gags made on the sake of film studios at such an early time is really something. There are a lot of memorable and I would say iconic moments, the chair moving scene, lunch scene, kissing scene etc are so great. But at the same time, this must be one of the most politically incorrect of the shorts I have seen of Chaplin being racist, homophobic and ironically showing hard work of a labourer getting no recognition and unions strike for nothing and being anarchists. Still considering the time it can be given a little slack.

Charlie at the film studio

Am a big fan of Charlie Chaplin, have been for over a decade now. Many films and shorts of his are very good to masterpiece, and like many others consider him a comedy genius and one of film's most important and influential directors.

From his post-Essanay period after leaving Keystone, 'Behind the Screen' is not one of his very best but is one of his best early efforts and among the better short films of his. It shows a noticeable step up in quality though from his Keystone period, where he was still evolving and in the infancy of his long career, from 1914, The Essanay and Mutual periods were something of Chaplin's adolescence period where his style had been found and starting to settle. Something that can be seen in the more than worthwhile 'Behind the Screen'.

The story is more discernible than usual and is never dull, in fact it is quite eventful without being too busy. The romance is sweet enough and the chemistry is definitely there, part of me felt though that it was not needed.

On the other hand, 'Behind the Screen' looks pretty good, not incredible but it was obvious that Chaplin was taking more time with his work and not churning out countless shorts in the same year of very variable success like he did with Keystone. Appreciate the importance of his Keystone period and there is some good stuff he did there, but the more mature and careful quality seen here and later on is obvious.

While not one of his most hilarious or touching, 'Behind the Screen' is still very funny with some clever, entertaining and well-timed slapstick, didn't mind that the pathos wasn't there as it was not the right kind of story. It moves quickly and there is no dullness in sight. The ending is one of the best and funniest ones of Chaplin's early work.

Chaplin directs more than competently, if not quite cinematic genius standard yet. He also, as usual, gives an amusing and expressive performance and at clear ease with the physicality of the role. The supporting cast acquit themselves well, particularly Eric Campbell. Edna Purviance is charming and her chemistry with Chaplin is beautiful, even if it did feel she was there to provide the "obligatory" love interest.

Overall, very enjoyable. 8/10 Bethany Cox

Some kind of wonderful

In short I wanted to highlight the wonderful work of the 2013 restoration. I have discovered again this gem that gives a glimpse at old time film studios settings; when noise on set didn't matter, and movies could be shot close to each other.

Chaplin surely used his personal experience in this one. Making fun of the artificial magic of cinema. Unlike his firsts silent shorts that only showcases a succession of gags, this one has a decent plot. His chemistry here with co-star Edna Purviance is even better than with Paulette Goddard.

I am very found of the bear scene, my favorite. Highly recommended to watch the restored copy, to fully enjoy it as Chaplin intended to show viewers when it was released.
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