Scen.: Charles Chaplin. F.: Roland Totheroh. Int.: Charles Chaplin (un vagabondo), Edna Purviance (ragazza dell’Esercito della Salvezza), Eric Campbell (il terrore del quartiere), Albert Austin (pastore/poliziotto), Henry Bergman (l’anarchico), Loyal Underwood (padre prolifico/secondo poliziotto), Janet Miller Sully (moglie dell’uomo prolifico/ visitatrice alla Missione), Charlotte Mineau (la donna ingrata), Tom Wood (capo della polizia), Lloyd Bacon (drogato), Frank J. Coleman (terzo poliziotto), John Rand (visitatore alla Missione/quarto poliziotto). Prod.: Charles Chaplin per Lone Star Mutual. Pri. pro.: 22 gennaio 1917. DCP. 2 bobine/2 reels. Bn.
For Easy Street Chaplin decided to have – at the exorbitant price of $10,000 – his first large ‘T’ shaped set built, reminiscent, as David Robinson pointed out, of Methley Street, in London, where Hannah Chaplin lived with her two children. A few years later Chaplin will replicate the ‘T’ configuration at Chaplin Studios, where it become the standard model for much of Chaplin’s comedy, from A Dog’s Life to Monsieur Verdoux. As Francis Bordat observed, its use would change from film to film: “more naturalistic in A Dog’s Life, more poetic in The Kid, more functional in City Lights, more lyrical in Modern Times, more theatrical in The Great Dictator, and more gloomy in Monsieur Verdoux“. Thanks to this set, as well as to a more elaborate story than in his previous films, Easy Street manages to convincingly represent, with powerful realism, the violent life of an urban neighborhood. This violence was something new for Chaplin, as was the leading role he plays, in the shoes of a figure of authority. The most hilarious comic moments arise from this unexpected and contradictory set up.”The sublime irony comes in the epilogue”, writes Jean Mitry. “The institutions, the laws, the moral principles, and the church had never been so virulently satirized. Those who believe they can keep people on the straight and narrow with verses from the Bible and fear of the police are scorned with utter delight. Even ‘good intentions’ blossoming suddenly in the rose garden are victims of a laugh or a blessing”.