It. tit.: Charlot ladro. Scen.: Charles Chaplin. F.: Harry Ensign. Scgf.: E.T. Hazy. Int.: Charles Chaplin (ex oarsman ), Edna Purviance (the girl), Wesley Ruggles (oarsman /thief), James T. Kelley (the drunk), Leo White (fruit seller/ owner of public dormitory/cop), John Rand (cop), Fred Goodwins (false preacher), Billy Armstrong, Bud Jamison. Prod.: Jesse T. Robbins per The Essanay Manufacturing Company. DCP. Bn.
Many of the narrative and symbolic features that came to surface with Essanay and that would become part of the Chaplin paradigm came to a head in Police. The caustic interpretation of the relationship between individual and society evolves as a more convincing representation of poverty and of the poor people living on the street as well as bitter criticism of Authority and the Clergy with corrupt preachers and inept and lazy policemen (of note, the scene of three of them drinking tea). We immediately wonder what crime the Tramp is in prison for because as soon as he crosses the jailhouse gate he is swindled by a preacher; as we see him in action, he just does not seem capable of fooling the guard of a homeless shelter or of burgling a house. Clearly out of his domain, the Tramp tries to break open an oven and a piano, inspects the contents of a teapot in search of who knows what kind of loot, and steals bouquets. Even objects (seemingly inanimate) are hostile towards the Tramp, starting with his walking stick that buckles under him, hits him on the neck, gets caught in a cabinet that falls and wakes up Edna. Chaplin’s last films for Essanay all met the same unfortunate fate: in the absence of a contractual term forbidding changing their length and editing, the production company mutilated, lengthened and manipulated them for purely commercial reasons. Apparently the scene at the homeless shelter in Police was shortened by Essanay and ended up in Triple Trouble, a two-reel comedy that was released in August 1918 and included other footage from Work and Police as well as new material shot by Leo White.