T. It.: Charlot Macchinista / Charlot Operatore; Sog., Scen.: Charles Chaplin; F.: Roland Totheroh; Mo.: Charles Chaplin; Int.: Charles Chaplin (Assistente Trovarobe), Eric Campbell (Trovarobe), Edna Purviance (Aspirante Attrice), Henry Bergman (Regista Del Kolossal Storico), Lloyd Bacon (Regista Del Film Comico), Albert Austin, John Rand, Leo White (Operaiaddettia Cambiare Le Scene), Frank J. Coleman (Il Produttore), Charlotte Mineau, Leota Bryan (Attrici), Wesley Ruggles, Tom Wood (Attori), James T. Kelley (Operatore); Prod.: Charles Chaplin Per Lone Star Mutual; Pri. Pro.: 13 Novembre 1916 35mm. D.: 30′ A 18 F/S. Bn.
In Behind the Screen Chaplin adds two more notable gags to his collection of comic transpositions. Doubled up beneath the weight of a dozen bentwood chairs, all looped around his person with their legs sticking into the hair, he is metamorphosed into a porcupine. He becomes a coiffeur as he dresses a bearskin rug, combing it, sprinkling on tonic, applying a finger massage, parting the hair and finally applying hot towels to the face. Chaplin’s preoccupation with people with nasty eating habits and smelly food recurs in the lunch-hour scene, in which he is seated beside Albert Austin, who is devouring onions. Charlie uses a bellows to deflect the fumes, then puts on a helmet, stuffing his own food through the briefly opened visor. However, he is not too proud to steal an occasional bite from the end of Austin’s meat-bone, clamping it between his own slices of bread. The most surprising element in the film is a sequence that was to remain the most overt representation of a homosexual situation anywhere in the Anglo-Saxon commercial cinema before the 1950s. Edna has disguised herself in workman’s overalls and a large cloth cap that conceals her hair. Charlie comes upon the “boy” sitting playing a guitar (in the first takes Edna had a harp, but this was clearly discarded as being too obviously feminine). Charlie teases the “boy” when he catches him powdering “his” face. At that moment [Henry] Bergman, who has split the seat of his trousers in a prior encounter with Charlie, enters and asks the “boy” to sew them up for him. Edna promptly faints away and her cap falls off, releasing her hair. She comes to, begs Charlie not to expose her, and replaces her cap. The brutish property man (Campbell) enters just in ti me to catch them kissing. “Oh you naughty boys!” he exclaims in a subtitle, and teases them by doing a little “fairy” dance, finally turning his back and offering his huge bottom – which Charlie obligingly kicks.
David Robinson, Chaplin: His Life and Art, Penguin, London 2001