After a hugely successful but tense year making films for The Essanay Film and Manufacturing Company, Charlie Chaplin decided to look elsewhere when his contract came to an end. Despite several offers from larger studios, Chaplin under the advice of his elder brother and Business Manager Sydney signed with The Mutual Film Corporation on February 26th 1916 for a world record breaking wage of $10,000 a week plus a signing bonus of $150,000. This was ten times his already substantial Essanay salary of $1,250 per week. The contract made Chaplin the highest earning employee in history and also stipulated complete artistic control over his films as well as a custom made studio. The aptly named Lone Star Studio was where Chaplin was to produce his twelve two-reel comedies for Mutual over the next twelve months. Chaplin later wrote in his autobiography that those twelve months were amongst the happiest of his career.
Although Chaplin was starting fresh with Mutual he did bring along some of his stock actors from Essanay and the likes of Leo White, John Rand and long time leading lady Edna Purviance joined him at the studio. In addition to these regulars Chaplin also hired a new group to work with him during his time at Mutual. Eric Campbell, Albert Austin and Charlotte Mineau joined a much larger group of regular actors as Chaplin’s films grew in scale.
In addition to writing, directing and starring in his films, Chaplin also began producing his movies with Mutual and went on to produce almost all of his subsequent films. The first three were co-written with his behind the scenes collaborator Vincent Bryan but Chaplin maintained sole writing and directing credit for the remaining Mutual comedies.
As with Chaplin’s Essanay films, I’ll be watching each one and posting a review on the blog plus a link to each one below.