This photo shows film frames cut out of a copy of the 1916 Charlie Chaplin short film The Floorwalker.

In the same box where I recently found the purported lost 1920s Mickey Mouse film strips, I have discovered around 6.6 feet of film from the end of an unknown Charlie Chaplin short. The 6.6 feet of film runs around 240 frames and lasts around 20 seconds. The film displayed only one scene.

Slideshow of the Film Frames

I snapped several photos of the film frames found at the bottom of the box.


Whoever cut up the film frames only left the last part of the film on the spool in the box. I figured there would be no easy way to find the title of the movie. After attempting to scan through all of Chaplin’s publicly available filmography, I wasn’t yet able to find any trace of the scene in his movies.

While I’m unable to determine the title at this time, I can tell it’s a film shot at Keystone Studios in 1914. One small detail allowed me to come to this conclusion. The Keystone Studios logo shape appears surrounding the words “The End” in the final frames.

1914 was the first year Chaplin appeared in motion pictures, the only year he worked with Keystone and the same year he created his famous character “The Little Tramp.”

Update: On Feb. 5, 2013, I updated report after the @ChaplinOfficial account on Twitter helped to identify the film as being from “The Floorwalker.” It’s not “lost” after all, and it’s from 1916, not 1914.

Retrospective

Jordan Liles added this retrospective on June 17, 2024.

This article about the “lost” Chaplin film was one of the first stories I wrote for this blog. I remember I started this blog back in either 2012 or 2013 after buying a camera and feeling quite creative. At the time, I was in my late 20s, wasn’t married and didn’t have children. In other words, I had plenty of time to explore whatever subjects interested me.

I became interested in Chaplin and his films after watching the 2011 film “The Artist” at a movie theater in Brooklyn. I saw the movie in December 2011. I have a memory of an unfortunate incident taking place while I was inside the theater. For whatever reason, I decided riding my bicycle to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) movie theater was a good idea. I parked my bike outside and locked it with a massive chain lock with which many New Yorkers are familiar. Even so, when I strolled out of the theater at the end of the movie, someone decided to steal my bike seat. Of all things to take, a bike seat?

I attempted to ride home by standing or perhaps only perching myself slightly on the seat. I soon realized this would be an impossible feat. I don’t know if any readers ever tried riding a bicycle with only the frame pipe coming up under your rear end but it’s quite uncomfortable and impossible.

Thankfully, a nearby open bike shop supplied me with a new seat. They also sold me a thick wire to hopefully keep the bike seat from being stolen in the future.

As for Chaplin, I watched many of his films in 2012 and 2013. “City Lights” was by far my favorite of all of Chaplin’s films, as evidence by the poster on my office wall as I write this retrospective in 2024. “City Lights” has an amazing first half followed by a very sweet ending. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to try to introduce themselves to the comedy of Chaplin.

I truly thought the film frames I found in the aforementioned projector box belonged to a lost Chaplin movie. Unfortunately, days or weeks after I published this article, the @ChaplinOfficial account on what was then called Twitter informed me of the truth. The film frames belonged to a known Chaplin film, not a lost one. Still, it was quite curious to find someone had chopped up a few frames of film from a Chaplin movie. I’ll never know who cut those frames or why they did it but the adventure of believing I found something lost was exciting while it lasted.

Now in 2024, so many years later, I still have the same bike seat and the same bike. Riding the bike over the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best memories I have of the bicycle. It’s now been ten years since I left the city.

The special nature of the city is one aspect of being a New Yorker that New Yorkers might not realize until they leave one day, that is, if they ever leave. Once they move away from New York, they’ll suddenly wish they could be back to experience all the wonderful things tourists experience during their visits. The Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge might all seem like touristy, uninteresting places to visit. However, I can’t wait to return one day to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Even now, as I write this retrospective and just paused after writing the previous sentence, I truly can’t wait.

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