The Chaplin Out-Takes Collection

Fade: The Kid

Charlie falls asleep as he waits for the Kid to come home, as he starts to dream the street transforms to the same street in heavenly form covered with flowers.

This unique collection of out-takes is now preserved by the bfi National Archive. The collection was deposited in this country through the intercession of Kevin Brownlow and David Gill who used the collection for their three part examination of the collection Unknown Chaplin. Before this, the collection of Mutual out-takes was held by Raymond Rohauer in the USA and had originally been scheduled for destruction by Chaplin. This caused some concern for the family after Chaplin's death as to keep the material for use could be seen as contravening his express wishes. This is indeed a matter of some delicacy but as Kevin Brownlow has commented, the collection does nothing but increase the reputation of Chaplin to anyone who has seen the films. They are unique documents of the working methods of one of the greatest film comedians of all time. It should also be noted that the preservation work carried out by the National Archive was supported, personally, by the late Pam Paumier of Roy Export who believed that the collection should be preserved for posterity. The availability of the collection to future generations should be seen as a tribute to her and her predecessor Rachel Ford.

Also instrumental in preserving the collection were the preservation team at the National Archive. The preservation and restoration work involved extensive repair work to allow for the films to be duplicated and printed. Considerable decomposition had set in causing the emulsion to peel off the base of the film. The specialist repair team devised their own system of reattaching the flaking emulsion using a specially prepared gelatine solution which would hold for long enough for the image to be passed through the printer. Great care had to be exercised in the printing process as there would possibly be only one opportunity to do so. The results are remarkable. The images were more or less pristine, having never been used. This enables us to see in considerable detail, Chaplin and his collaborators at work and play.

In another immense effort, the 400 + cans of footage were shot listed by Professor Frank Scheide as part of his Chaplin research in 2000/1. These are available from the bfi on request and can be now be accessed through the bfi Film & TV database.

The story behind the survival of this astonishing collection of films is told in Kevin Brownlow's recent book The Search for Charlie Chaplin, published by the Cineteca di Bolgona. The DVD of the 1983 Television series, Unknown Chaplin accompanies the bilingual book. For UK viewers the Unknown Chaplin DVD is available from 8 May 2006.

List of contents of the 400 + Out-takes cans (PDF, 49kb)

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