Charles Chaplin

Scen.: Charles Chaplin. F.: Roland Totheroh. Scgf.: E.T. Mazy. Int.: Charles Chaplin (ubriaco), Albert Austin (tassista). Prod.: Charles Chaplin per Lone Star Mutual. Pri. pro.: 7 agosto 1916. DCP. 2 bobine / 2 reels.

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

Da: Blackhawk Collection

In spite of the public and critical success of this virtuoso and irresistible solo work, Chaplin wasn’t particularly fond of One A.M. The Chaplin archives now provide a possible reason, and perhaps a new key to the origins of a film that is unique in the Chaplin filmography. On August 2, 1916, five days before the scheduled release of the film in American movie theaters, Tom Harrington, at the time the valet and secretary for Chaplin, sent an overnight telegram to Chaplin’s brother, Sydney, which read: “Charlie in very depressed condition for past two weeks. Doesn’t seem able to get mind around to his story. He wishes nearly every other day you were here unless he pulls up within next couple of days am afraid he will miss release on this picture. Think it very important for his future success for you to drop everything in New York and come here immediately spending at least three or four weeks. Don’t let Charlie know I wired this as he might make him feel badly […]”. In another telegram Charlie sent Sydney on July 31st, we learn that Chaplin was at the time working on The Count, but couldn’t get a handle on the story. One A.M., a film entirely reliant on his physical dexterity and performed as a solo work, was very likely his response to the struggles he was having with the other screenplay. Once One A.M. was finished, Chaplin contacted his brother again. The tone of this telegram is similar to the one sent earlier by Harrington and confirms not only the important supportive role played by Sydney Chaplin in those years, but also the unexpected creative impasse: “Last two pictures have given me great worry and I need you here to help me drop everything and arrange to be in Los Angeles by Saturday august twelfth to help me in directing next picture wire answer immediately. Charlie”. In One A.M. Chaplin dusts off the repertoire of classic routines, he had developed with Karno – in this case the Mumming Birds number – bringing the performance to the height of perfection and pushing it to the level of an out and out nightmare. With over fifty camera angles, and many more camera movements than usual, in less than twenty minutes Chaplin stages a virtual battle with the (domestic) elements, an anthropomorphic struggle with stuffed animals, carpets, stairs and finally with a folding bed, presaging the final battle he wages, of man versus machine, in Modern Times.

Copy From

Restored in 2013 by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna at L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in collaboration with Lobster Films and Film Preservation Associates