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Flickering EmpireHow Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry$
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Michael Glover Smith and Adam Selzer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231174497

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231174497.001.0001

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Essanay Signs Charlie Chaplin

Essanay Signs Charlie Chaplin

(p.120) Chapter Ten Essanay Signs Charlie Chaplin
Flickering Empire

Michael Glover Smith

Adam Selzer

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the impact of the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company's collaboration with Charlie Chaplin on Chicago's film industry. In 1914, the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company was poised to become the most powerful movie studio in the world. Despite being financially strapped at the end of the previous calendar year, it still had many of the top draws in America's nascent film industry. A series of high-quality, popular movies on the cutting edge of the new medium might have saved the studio. George Spoor, however, had lost the power that had brought him this far in the first place: his ability to see the future. Unlike his cross-town rival William Selig, Spoor believed that short films would continue to dominate the movies. Spoor had also stopped caring much about quality. After the expiration of his contract with Keystone Studios, Chaplin was lured to Essanay. In 1914, he signed with Essanay to start working for its 1915 season.

Keywords:   film industry, Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, Charlie Chaplin, Chicago, movies, George Spoor, William Selig, Keystone Studios

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