59. Easy Street (1917)

Mutual 1916-17

Film still for Easy Street


Charlie, a tramp, waits outside a mission for it to open. Attending the service in the hope of some alms, he sits next to a woman who gives him a baby to hold. When the milk bottle leaks down his trousers Charlie quickly hands it back. Inspired by the angelic Edna Charlie is moved sufficiently to return the collection box.

Outside a fight is in progress on Easy Street. A gigantic bully is holding sway, terrifying his rivals and making short work of the policemen who attempt to intervene. The resulting casualties lead to an advert for recruits. After being put off by a natural fear of large policemen Charlie decides to apply and is uniformed and on the beat in seconds. His uniform causes general hilarity but Charlie accidentally knocks someone out by idly swinging his truncheon, and encouraged, he turns to tackle the bully. Shaking a policeman upside-down to extract the change, the bully turns on the crowd who scatter. The street empties and Charlie alone attempts to call for back up on the police phone, without the bully noticing. When his giant rival is distracted Charlie hits him on the head with the truncheon but to no avail. Astonished, he repeats the exercise with no noticeable effect. The bully gives Charlie a demonstration of his strength by bending the iron lamppost down to the ground, whereupon Charlie takes advantage by placing his cloak over the bully's head and anaesthetising him with the gas.

Now the main man on Easy street, Charlie commands respect. He sees the bully's wife stealing food from a shop and sympathetically steals more for her. Edna arrives in time to witness it and takes the woman inside. Edna and Charlie continue their charitable work by helping a large family with a frail looking father. Meanwhile the bully has come to in the police station and is out for revenge against Charlie. A chase ensues up and downstairs and in and out of windows. Edna is abducted and put into a cellar with a drug-crazed addict. Charlie too - succumbing to the mob - is thrown in and accidentally sits on the addict's syringe. This gives him superhuman energy, enough to mop up all the villains of Easy Street and transform it into a respectable neighbourhood. We next see the bully in Sunday best accompanying his wife to church.


Charles Chaplin (Vagabond recruited to Police Force)
Edna Purviance (Missionary)
Eric Campbell (Scourge of Easy Street)
Albert Austin (Clergyman and Policeman)
Henry Bergman (Anarchist)
Loyal Underwood (Small but Fecund Father /Policeman)
Janet Miller Sully (His Wife / Mission Visitor)
Charlotte Mineau (Ungrateful Woman)
Tom Wood (Chief of Police)
Frank J. Coleman (Policeman)
John Rand (Mission Visitor / Policeman)
William Gillespie (Drug Addict)
Erich von Stroheim Jr (Baby)
Leo White (Policeman)
? Lloyd Bacon (Drug Addict)
James T.Kelley (Policeman / Man in Mission)
22 January 1917
1757 ft