It. tit.: Charlot principiante. Scen.: Charles Chaplin. Int.: Charles Chaplin (background actor), Ben Turpin (background actor), Charlotte Mineau (the star), Charles Insley (director), Leo White (the actor), Frank J. Coleman (director assistant), Bud Jamison (the star delayed), Gloria Swanson (stenographer), Agnes Ayres (secretary), Billy Armstrong (background actor). Prod.: Jesse T. Robbins per The Essanay Manufacturing Company. DCP. Bn.
Exactly one year (and 35 films) after the first appearance of The Tramp at Venice’s auto races, Chaplin made his debut with Essanay in a comedy that lovingly teases the world of cinema, with a nod to Mack Sennett as well as to The Prisoner of Zenda by Porter and Ford, a great success of the previous film season. His New Job is pure satire, with an insolent and mischievous Tramp who creates chaos among the directors, the technicians, the seasoned actors and aspiring ones. He never misses a chance to pick on poor Ben Turpin, here in his first film with Chaplin. As the leading actress Chaplin had chosen a young Gloria Swanson, who had just signed with Essanay. Swanson’s more dramatic ambitions led her to sabotaging her own screen test, and she ended up only making a brief cameo appearance. The film abounds with gags, which are still only functional to the action. Of note are the two-door gag, which was done several times until it was perfected in Modern Times, Chaplin’s hat trick, his signature stunt introduced here for the first time, and the interaction with the statue (in which we are not sure if he’s looking at her as an art collector would or trying to seduce her) which would be seen again in City Lights fifteen years later. His New Job is also the only movie shot at the Essanay studios, an old warehouse in the industrial area of cold Chicago, and, as Chaplin recalled a few years later, a place unfit for nurturing creativity, “at six o’clock, even if a director was only halfway through a scene, the lights went out and everyone went home”