When Charles Chaplin signed a record-setting contract with the Mutual Film Corporation in February 1916, it was the culmination of events that changed the motion picture business. Mutual's founders redefined how films were bought, sold and distributed. Chaplin redefined screen comedy with a character that leapt into the hearts of moviegoers around the world. Together they established the value of star power and created twelves magnificent comedies that have endured for generations. From the nickelodeon to the internet, the MUTUAL-CHAPLIN SPECIALS have been viewed by more people than any other films in the entire history of cinema.
CHAPLIN'S VINTAGE YEAR tells the full story of the MUTUAL-CHAPLIN SPECIALS, framed within the rise and fall of the Mutual Film Corporation, the worldwide phenomenon known as "Chaplinitis," the famous $670,000 contract, and the various acquisitions and releases these comedies have enjoyed for nearly one hundred years. The book includes a detailed filmography featuring period reviews and exhibitor comments, and is lavishly illustrated with over 150 photographs and advertising images.
For those interested in the Mutual-Chaplin Specials, we recommend Flicker Alley's upcoming DVD/Blu-ray release, which can be ordered at http://flickeralley.com/catalog/item/chaplins-mutuals-comedies/hardgood. Author Michael J. Hayde has contributed to the booklet that accompanies the set.
"CHAPLIN’S VINTAGE YEAR; THE HISTORY OF THE MUTUAL CHAPLIN SPECIALS (BearManor Media) by Michael J. Hayde somehow slipped by me when it was published in 2013—but it’s never too late to spread the word about a volume as valuable as this. I have never read, or expected to encounter, such a knowledgeable and detailed chronicle of the Mutual Film Company and the “golden dozen” two-reelers Chaplin made for that short-lived firm. Hayde has left no stone unturned in his search for primary materials about their production and distribution, including how they were received at the time—by the trade press, theater owners, critics, and customers.
"The author goes into great detail about the way Charlie’s previous employer, Essanay, retooled leftover footage into “new” Chaplin releases, and how both Charlie and Mutual—as well as Essanay itself—went after pirates who peddled bogus Chaplin movies to willing exhibitors.
"He then traces the fascinating and complex way these precious films were kept alive by a variety of companies and individuals over the years, after Mutual bowed out of the picture. (He gives due credit to the late David Shepard, who spent decades diligently tracking down the best available negatives to share with collectors.)
"This is a magnificent piece of scholarship, and its text is punctuated by fascinating newspaper clippings, advertisements, and cartoons. No Chaplin library is complete without Chaplin’s Vintage Year. It’s not just a reference guide; if you’re a Chaplin aficionado like me you’ll want to read every word.
"Finally, in organizing flotsam and jetsam from my own garage I came upon a book I didn’t remember I owned!"
- Leonard Maltin