Easy Street and The Immigrant are arguably the masterpieces.
These two standout films among The Mutual Comedies demonstrate an increased conceptual sophistication - even when he was making up and refining aspects of the story as he went along. Chaplin wanted to move his fans emotionally as well as make them laugh. Captivating stories of the little guy battling social adversity was his remit, and became our joy. And he knew all about such rotten luck from life experience. Not just as an immigrant to a new country, but a childhood that was properly Dickensian. And it isn't all about Chaplin. Eric Campbell co-starred as a bête noire figure and comedy foil in ten of the twelve shorts. The burly man mountain was, like the director, a former Fred Karno employee, and these are the only movies he ever made. He died in an automobile accident (drink-driving home from a party) in 1917, aged 39. But thanks to the successful of these films and their survival - no matter that at one time this survival was very precarious - Campbell has earned his place in screen-comedy history.
Martyn Conterio | @Cinemartyn