Theatrical poster to The Floorwalker
|Directed by||Charles Chaplin
Edward Brewer (technical director)
|Produced by||Henry P. Caulfield|
|Written by||Charles Chaplin (scenario)
Vincent Bryan (scenario)
Maverick Terrell (scenario)
|Cinematography||William C. Foster
|Edited by||Charles Chaplin|
|Distributed by||Mutual Film Corporation|
|Running time||2 Reels (24 minutes in restored, speed-corrected version)|
The Floorwalker was Charlie Chaplin's first Mutual Film Corporation film, made in 1916. The film stars Chaplin, in his traditional Tramp persona, as a customer who creates chaos in a department store and becomes inadvertently entangled in the nefarious scheme of the store manager, played by Eric Campbell, and the store's floorwalker, played by Lloyd Bacon, to embezzle money from the establishment.
The film is noted for the first "running staircase" used in films which is used for a series of slapstick that climaxes with a frantic chase down an upward escalator and finding they are remaining in the same position on the steps no matter how fast they move. Edna Purviance plays a minor role as a secretary to store manager, Eric Campbell.
Roughly seven minutes from the start of the film, Chaplin and the store's floorwalker, Lloyd Bacon, stumble into opposite doors of an office and are intrigued by their likeness to each other. They mirror each other's movements to deft comic effect in a way that is believed to have inspired the "mirror scene" in Max Linder's 1921 movie Seven Years Bad Luck. In that comedy film, Max's servants accidentally break a mirror and try to hide their mistake by having one of them dress just like their employer. Then, when Max looks into the non-existent glass, the disguised servant mimics his every action.
Max Linder's movie in turn inspired many similar scenes, most famously in the Marx Brothers film Duck Soup. Later renditions can be found in the Bugs Bunny cartoon Hare Tonic, the Mickey Mouse cartoon Lonesome Ghosts, and in the TV series Family Guy and The X-Files. A scene in The Pink Panther, with David Niven and Robert Wagner wearing identical gorilla costumes, mimics the mirror scene. Harpo Marx did a reprise of this scene, dressed in his usual costume, with Lucille Ball also donning the fright wig and trench coat, in an episode of I Love Lucy. Additionally, an early episode of The Patty Duke Show contains a mirror scene in which the characters Patty and Cathy Lane (both played by Patty Duke) act out a version similar to the one found in the film Duck Soup.
In 1932, Amedee Van Beuren of Van Beuren Studios, purchased Chaplin's Mutual comedies for $10,000 each, added music by Gene Rodemich and Winston Sharples and sound effects, and re-released them through RKO Radio Pictures.
- Charles Chaplin - Tramp
- Eric Campbell - Store manager
- Edna Purviance - Manager's secretary
- Lloyd Bacon - Assistant manager
- Albert Austin - Shop assistant
- Charlotte Mineau - Beautiful store detective
- Simon Louvish (2009) Chaplin: The Tramp's Odyssey. London, Faber and Faber: 105
- SilentComedians entry
- The short film The Floorwalker is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
- The Floorwalker at the Internet Movie Database
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