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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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Chaplin in Chicago

Chaplin in Chicago

His New Job

(p.131) Chapter Eleven Chaplin in Chicago
Flickering Empire

Michael Glover Smith

Adam Selzer

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the work of Charlie Chaplin for the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company in Chicago. Chaplin was miserable with Essanay by the time he commenced work for the studio on his first picture, His New Job. Chaplin traced most of the studio's troubles back to one source: Thomas Edison, who had attempted to monopolize the film industry through his Motion Picture Patents Company. Chaplin was also distressed by the inner workings of Essanay, which he found to be grim and business-like. Nevertheless, he began writing and directing his own films. When 1915 drew to a close and his contract with Essanay was running out, Chaplin's star was clearly on the rise. His Little Tramp persona had made him one of the most recognizable faces in the world. Soon he encountered problems with studio founders George Spoor and Gilbert M. Anderson that would prove irreversible. Chaplin left Essanay in 1915 to join the Mutual Film Corporation, a move that not only led to the demise of the former but also signaled the end of the days when Chicago was a major film center.

Keywords:   film industry, Charlie Chaplin, Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, Chicago, His New Job, films, Little Tramp, George Spoor, Gilbert M. Anderson, Mutual Film Corporation

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