Behind the Screen

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For short-lived 1980s soap opera of the same name, see Behind The Screen (TV series).
Behind the Screen
Behind the Screen.jpg
Theatrical poster to Behind the Screen
Directed by Charles Chaplin
Edward Brewer (technical director)
Produced by Henry P. Caulfield
Written by Charles Chaplin
Vincent Bryan
Maverick Terrell
Starring Charles Chaplin
Edna Purviance
Eric Campbell
Cinematography Roland Totheroh
George C. Zalibra
Edited by Charles Chaplin
Distributed by Mutual Film Corporation
Release dates
November 13, 1916
Running time
23 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent (English intertitles)
Behind the Screen

Behind the Screen is a 1916 American silent short comedy film written by, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin, and also starring Eric Campbell and Edna Purviance.


The film takes place in a movie studio. A stagehand named David (Chaplin) has a supervisor, Goliath (Campbell). Much of the film is slapstick comedy involving Chaplin manhandling large props, but other plotlines include a strike by the stagehands, and Purviance, who is unable to become an actress, dressing as a man and becoming a stagehand.

Chaplin kissing Purviance in Behind the Screen

References in documentaries[edit]

The 1983 documentary series Unknown Chaplin revealed previously unseen footage from this movie, including an alternate take where Purviance's character is shown playing a harp; an outtake in which Edna, playing the guitar, starts laughing (the documentary supports the belief that Purviance and Chaplin were romantically involved at the time); and several takes of a sequence in which Chaplin's character narrowly misses having his feet chopped off by an axe (accomplished by filming the scene backwards) - this sequence was never used in the final film.

The 1995 documentary The Celluloid Closet draws attention to the scene where Chaplin's character - after learning that Purviance's character is really a woman - kisses her while on the set; at this point, a male stagehand enters and, thinking that Chaplin has kissed a man, starts acting in an overtly effeminate way until Chaplin kicks him.[1]


Sound version[edit]

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. Chaplin had no legal recourse to stop the RKO release.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Celluloid Closet, DVD documentary (1995); Kenneth S. Lynn, Chaplin: His Life and Times (2003).
  2. ^ SilentComedians entry

External links[edit]