It. tit.: La signorina Charlot. Scen.: Charles Chaplin. F.: Harry Ensign. Scgf.: E.T. Hazy. Int.: Charles Chaplin (Charlot/the woman), Edna Purviance (the daughter), Marta Golden (the mother), Charles Insley (the father), Margie Reiger (fathers’ friend), Billy Armstrong (fathers’ friend), Leo White (man in the gardens). Prod.: Jesse T. Robbins per The Essanay Manufacturing Company. DCP. Bn.
A Woman consists of two rather distinct parts. In the first – set in the prototypical park with bench and beverage stand – the Tramp (who now had a definitive gait and used his cane as a natural extension of his body) stirs up trouble left and right, heedless of authorities, strikes his adversaries and throws them in the lake. The second takes place in an interior with the house’s entrance hall serving acting as the main stage, where all the tricks and secrets happening in the sitting room and kitchen – both with a swinging door for stumbling at every exit and entrance – come to light. Chaplin’s third and last performance en travesti after the shrewish and clumsy woman in A Busy Day and the actor looking for a part in The Masquerader, strait-laced critics accused A Woman of being vulgar since it portrayed crossdressing and especially for showing two women (and two men!) kissing. Chaplin, whose face temporarily appears ‘naked’, gives a truly notable performance as a woman (the catwalk in front of Edna is unforgettable), treating us to a couple of close-ups in which we seem to look straight into his eyes for the first time. As David Robinson observed perhaps the most memorable image of the film “is Charlie without moustache, hat or trousers, suddenly transformed by the ‘woman’s’ fox fur (a ruffle), long pants (tights) and striped underclothing (knickerbockers) into a traditional clown figure – a guise in which he was briefly to appear again, many years later, in Limelight”.