F. Richard Jones (?)

Int.: Syd Chaplin (Mr. Dash), Phyllis Allen (Mrs. Dash), Edgar Kennedy (Barber), Dixie Chene (Manicure), Grover Ligon (Primo poliziotto), Edwin Frazee (secondo barbiere), Dan Albert; Prod.: Keystone Film Company; Pri. pro.: 7 gennaio 1915

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes


Sydney John Chaplin (legally Hill) was born in London on March 16, 1885 to an unwed soubrette, Hannah Harriet Pedlingham Hill, who was to give birth to perhaps the most famous and suc- cessful film comedian in the world just four years later, Charlie. Much conjecture has been made about the relationship between these two brothers, but initially it seems to have been one of Sydney as loving caretaker and supporter of his younger sibling. But with fame for Charlie came complications for Sydney. Did he subsume his own ego and its needs in order to work towards what could be unparalleled success on the part of his brother? The short answer to that was “yes,” but Sydney’s competitive side could not long be quelled by his true affection for his brother and so he embarked on a film career of his own, making 37 films between 1914 and 1929. While he achieved real success in films such as Charley’s Aunt (1924) and The Better ‘Ole (1926), his career suffered major downturns, too, first in 1922 upon the release of his long overdue picture King, Queen, Joker—a major flop—and then in 1929 when he was blacklisted from the business after a debacle involving an actress and his then employer, British International Pictures. This enigmatic life is the subject of Syd Chaplin: A Biography (Ed. McFarland).

Lisa Stein Haven

Syd Chaplin: the Home Movies

From the many letters in the archives from and to Sydney Chaplin, carefully preserved for posterity by Sydney himself (!), it is obvious that he was much preoccupied with hopes for his own career and with his brother’s continued success. This is not, however, reflected in the small collection of his home movies – cocktails and Nice carnivals, trailer parks, cruises and tourist destinations, punctuated with the occasional naked lady…
The only exciting discovery was the fascinating colour footage he shot on the set of The Great Dictator (not included in this selection as it is available on DVD.) Nevertheless, the films are a lovely insight into Syd’s life even if they do not solve its mysteries. When his wife Minnie died of cancer in September 1936 he was purportedly heartbroken, but appears happy enough on a cruise a few months later. Wife number 2 appears for the first time on film as early as June 1937… did he know her before?
Syd ‘s little comic acts for the camera are endearing, and just like Charlie’s in Oona Chaplin’s home movies. Neither could resist a performance. The final images selected are of the brothers in Switzerland, competing for the camera once again.

Kate Guyonvarch


Giddy, Gay and Ticklish (Keystone, 1915), Syd’s seventh film for Keystone, is significant in his filmography, because it exhibits the first manifestation of the many barbershop gags the Chaplin brothers were to utilize in their careers. Mr. Reginald Gussle is not the barber himself, as one of Syd’s characters will be in a later film, King, Queen, Joker (Paramount , 1921), but is still able to stir up some mischief in the barber’s shop. The barber here is Edgar Kennedy, who has a second barber working for him. His young and pretty girlfriend, Dixie Chene, works as a manicurist in the shop. The film begins with what will become a sort of paradigmatic scene between Mrs. and Mr. Gussle, one which sets him up as a henpecked husband who deals with his older and larger wife through sheer persistence and guile. Allen here is much like the wife she plays in Charlie’s film Pay Day (First National, 1922).
Having escaped the wife (as usual) with a fistful of dollars, Gussle makes his way downtown looking for diversion. He finds it in Kennedy the barber’s girlfriend, who he encounters at the fruit market. He’s already had one scuffle with Kennedy outside his house earlier in the day, so the two’s history adds to the mayhem that develops in the barbershop, to which, naturally, Gussle follows the blonde. After some hijinx in the barber’s chair, a gun fight and a conveniently denuded manicurist, the film ends in a water fight with a hose.

Lisa Stein Haven

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