Making A Living (1914)

Making a Living (1914)

Towards the end of the 19th Century, a new form of entertainment was born in France. As a lighthearted version of comedy, without moral intentions, vaudeville became immensely popular in the US from the 1880s as a form of stage-bound circus.

By the 1910s, these actors were starting to find their way onto film, paving the way for slapstick comedies. In 1912, actor, director, and - later - the "King of Comedy", Mack Sennett set up Keystone Studios, which was arguably the most successful studio in the 1910s for bringing this form of comedy to film.

Sennett created his famous Keystone Cops (or Kops) which were fictional incompetent policemen that often served as part of the background ensemble in many of Keystone's films.

In 1913, Keystone hired a young vaudeville actor, Charlie Chaplin. While Chaplin's "The Tramp" character would make his first appearance in Kid Auto Races at Venice on 7 February 1914, Chaplin actually made his film debut with Keystone in Making A Living, released five days earlier..

Chaplin's physical appearance in Making A Living is not dissimilar from that created for The Tramp. He wears a moustache, possibly as a result of Sennett thinking Chaplin looked too young, as well as having a top hat and cane. He plays a swindler who is always on the lookout for ways to make money regardless of the morality. He inevitably ends up in trouble with the Keystone Cops, in what would be one of the few films where they appear with Chaplin.

Like many films from this era, Keystone's popularity waned with the introduction of sound and talkies. The studio would become defunct by the mid-1930s, leaving the enduring memory of both the Keystone Cops and the first introduction of Chaplin to film.

You can watch Making a Living below.