The Tramp (film)

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The Tramp
The Tramp poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byCharlie Chaplin
Written byCharlie Chaplin
Produced byJess Robbins
StarringCharlie Chaplin
Edna Purviance
CinematographyHarry Ensign
Edited byCharlie Chaplin
Distributed byEssanay Studios
General Film Company
Release date
  • April 11, 1915 (1915-04-11)
Running time
26 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)

The Tramp is Charlie Chaplin's sixth film for Essanay Studios and was released in 1915. Directed by Chaplin, it was the fifth and last film made at Essanay's Niles, California studio.[1] The Tramp marked the beginning of The Tramp character most known today, even though Chaplin played the character in earlier films. This film marked the first departure from his more slapstick character in the earlier films, with a sad ending and showing he cared for others, rather than just himself. The film co-stars Edna Purviance as the farmer's daughter and Ernest Van Pelt as Edna's father. The outdoor scenes were filmed on location near Niles.


The film starts with Charlie Chaplin walking down the road. He doesn't see a car come by and he barely manages to escape. A few seconds later, another car floors Charlie.

Not being able to fathom what just happened, he dusts himself off and decides to seek refuge in a nearby farm. There, he does the classic gag of doffing his hat to a tree. He sits underneath it and decides to eat his sandwich.

However, a hobo exchanges Charlie's sandwich for a brick, so Charlie must eat grass. Charlie sees this, and knows he cannot do anything, so he just sits there. The same hobo, however, molests a farmer's daughter (Edna Purviance), and she runs up to Charlie, who comes to her aid with the help of the brick. The hobo tries getting Charlie out of the way, but Charlie kicks him off.

Two more hobos show up when the angry hobo tells them about how Charlie humiliated him, but these are no bother for Charlie, who throws all three into the lake. However, they have their fifteen seconds of fame when they throw stones at Charlie, and he sits down on a bunch of logs and sets his posterior on fire. He sits down in a sewage pipe to cool his posterior off, where Edna finds him.

The grateful girl takes Charlie home, where the farmer's father decides that "as a reward, you can work". Edna seats herself on the lunch table, and, unaware about this, Charlie throws his brick on the table, giving the table a jolt.

There, he helps another farmhand with work. He gets a fork and frequently pokes the farmhand with it, especially while he is carrying loads, to make him move faster. When Charlie attempts helping him with the load, he does a terrible job. He climbs up a ladder, takes the load and, instead of climbing down to keep the load down, just throws it down. Later, they realize that he threw the load down on another man, who's passed out under the sheer weight.

This over, him and the farmhand go to get the eggs that the chicks lay. However, the duo get into a tiff, where Charlie smashes an egg on the farmhand's forehead. It smells disgusting, so they think about what they can do with it.

They see a man enjoying nature with a spiritual book. Charlie suddenly gets an idea. While the man is enjoying nature, and unaware that the spiritual book actually exists, Charlie sneakily puts the smashed egg on the open page, and sneaks away. Just then, the man closes his book, and the egg yolk spills down on his coat. But he doesn't realize this as he's still lost to nature.

Charlie suddenly gets a hunch that the hobos are planning another robbery, and the robbery features the house Charlie resides in, so they go to the office. They tell the man inside about the planned robbery, but the man couldn't care less. So they devise a plan.

Charlie takes a hammer and decides that, when the thieves try climbing in, he'll bust their heads with the hammer. He tells the farmhand to sleep off, with the intention of testing the hammer on him. Of course, the man sleeps off, and when Charlie smashes the man's head, he wakes up immediately, in deep pain, and very angry with Charlie.

Their hunch proves correct. The hobos try climbing in. However, Charlie and the farmhand, unbeknownst to them, are ready for them, and Charlie smashes their heads with the hammer, making them fall all the way down. Charlie gives chase, just for fun, and the men manage to get away.

By this time, a scene has been created, and when the people realize what Charlie had done, they thanked him profusely. Edna even offered to eat lunch with him. By now Charlie was in love, so he readily agreed.

All seems well, until a man comes along and calls to Edna. Edna hurriedly tells Charlie that a man has come to see her, and Charlie readily agrees to let them see each other.

And Charlie just watches as they kiss and hug.

Charlie now knowing that the woman of his dreams is already in a relationship, introduces himself to Edna's sweetheart. He then excuses himself and goes back in. Unwilling to be a problem in their lives, he decides to leave a letter for them and then take to the road. He wrote: "I thort (thought) your kidness (kindness) was love, but I know it wasn't cause (because) I (I've) seen him. Good by (goodbye)."

He then goes to the road, where he knows he belongs. He is seen skipping and swinging his cane, happy that he is back on the road, where he is meant to be.


Charlie Chaplin as "The Tramp" during the film


Like many American films of the time, The Tramp was subject to cuts by city and state film censorship boards. For example, the Chicago Board of Censors cut, in Reel 1, the scene of Chaplin sitting in a sewage drainage pipe after burning his posterior.[2]


  1. ^ "Progressive Silent Film List: The Tramp". Retrieved 2010-11-02.
  2. ^ "Official Cut-Outs by the Chicago Board of Censors". Exhibitors Herald. New York City: Exhibitors Herald Company. 6 (14): 29. March 30, 1918.

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