Forgotten 1914 Charlie Chaplin Film Appearance Unearthed

July 22, 2010  |  3:00pm

A long-forgotten Charlie Chaplin film appearance from almost a century ago has been uncovered at an antiques sale in Michigan.

NPR reports that film historian Paul Gierucki bought the 10-minute 16mm expecting a fairly standard silent comedy from Keystone Studios. What he uncovered turned out to be A Thief Catcher, a 1914 film with a three-minute appearance from the film great, who plays a bumbling “Keystone cop.”

It’s the first addition to Chaplin’s filmography in more than 60 years — even he only mentioned the film once on record, in a 1965 interview, but never said the title. Film records from Keystone Studios in California had no record of Chaplin’s appearance either.

This past weekend, the film was screened for the public at Slapsticon, an annual comedy film festival held in Arlington, Va., possibly for the first time since 1914. But if this amazing film find is any indication of what else may still be out there, maybe next time our grandparents invite us to go antiquing, we just might take them up on it.

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