Keystone screenings at the Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna
On the 6 and 7 of July the latest batch of restored Keystone films from the Chaplin Project were screened to enthusiastic audiences at Europe's premiere film restoration festival. Introductions explaining the intricate work involved in bringing these films back to life were by Davide Pozzi for Bologna and Kieron Webb for the BFI.
Of Bologna's four titles Face on the Bar Room Floor stands out as a brave experiment in parody untypical of Chaplin's work and Busy Day is one of two rare occasions when Chaplin plays in drag. Caught in a Cabaret is the most familiar stylistically and has some well developed, well choreographed gags. Fatal Mallet is also full of glorious momments and co-stars head of the Keystone Company Mack Sennett along side the other Mack, Keystone regular Mack Swain. Of the BFI's new titles The Knockout is fabulous - essentially a vehicle for Fatty Arbuckle with great support from Al St John and Edgar Kennedy, when Chaplin does appear he lights up the screen. The Star Boarder is missing a good deal of material but the scenario of a little boy taking compromising pictures of adults is a good one and is well worth a look.
For those not lucky enough to be in Italy this July a selection of these titles will screen at the Times BFI London Film festival in the autumn.
The Chaplin Keystone restoration is a partnership between the Cineteca di Bologna (L'Immagine Ritrovata) the BFI National Archive and Lobster Films, this project is retoring all 35 of the films Chaplin made for the Keystone company.