It. tit.: Charlot a teatro. Scen.: Charles Chaplin. F.: Harry Ensign. Scgf.: E.T. Hazy. Int.: Charles Chaplin (Mr. Pest/Mr. Rowdy), Edna Purviance (lady in the audience), Charlotte Mineau (lady in the audience), Dee Lampton (fat spiteful boy), Leo White (man in the audience/conspire), Wesley Ruggles (gentleman in the balcony), John Rand (orchestra leader), James T. Kelley (orchestral/singer), Paddy McGuire (orchestral), May White (fat lady in the foyer/snake charmer), Bud Jamison (Edna’s husband/singer), Phyllis Allen (spectator), Fred Goodwins (spectator), Charles Insley (spectator), Carrie Clark Ward (spectator). Prod.: Jesse T. Robbins per The Essanay Manufacturing Company. DCP. Bn.
A Night in the Show is a kind of return to roots that is interesting for more than one reason: reinterpretation of Karno’s sketch Mumming Birds (known in the United States with the title A Night in an English Music Hall), was in fact the performance that paved Chaplin’s way into the film world. In fact, Keystone shareholder Harry Aitken (and not Sennet, as wrongly indicated by many) had Chaplin signed on after seeing him in the role of the drunkard. It was perhaps also the product of Chaplin’s last hesitation. He was by then a master with film as a medium as well as the creator of a new, sophisticated kind of comedy with his own personal aesthetics; and yet he gives in to the call of farce and parody. Nonetheless, the fact that the film revisits a story connected more to Music Hall than cinema and therefore to Chaplin’s 19th-century roots (as performer and as spectator) is the reason why we can clearly sense the extraordinary artistic evolution he made in a little over two years. Especially in the first half of the film, Chaplin’s performance as the irresistible and drunk Mr. Pest is measured and subtle, far from the wild gesticulating of his early career but no less ferocious and scathing for it. “Everything in his acting – commented Jean Mitry – is intended to express the contempt with which he sees the world, especially its rules, its conventions and the people who bow down to them. The social criticism sketched out in Work is further elaborated on and becomes the basic theme of the film. Here the ‘ballet’ is only a structural element that harmoniously organizes the comic situations, which are not merely choreographic. Parody, which in the Keystone comedies never went beyond the parodic act, becomes satire of behavior”.
Restoration supported by The Film Foundation, the George Lucas Family Foundation, and the Material World Charitable Foundation