Sunnyside (1919) starring Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance
Sunnyside is an unusual Charlie Chaplin short film in several respects. First, although the main character is clearly Charlie the Little Tramp, he’s not really a tramp in this movie. He’s gainfully employed by Henry Bergman as a worker at a farm/hotel, working from 4:00 a.m. until late at night. Although worked hard, he still finds time to daydream, and to court a farmer’s daughter, played by his frequent co-star Edna Purviance. All seems well in his world (relatively speaking) until a young man from the city has a car accident. He is brought into the hotel, where the suave, well-to-do young man begins to steal Edna’s affections. The ending of the movie is ambiguous – either Charlie the Tramp prevails, and regains Edna’s affections, or she leaves the farm with the city slicker. The ending may, or may not, be a dream sequence.
Likewise, earlier after Charlie falls into the ditch while riding a herd of cows (no, seriously) there’s a dream sequence. Charlie dances with young nymphs in his delirium. Sunnyside was Charlie Chaplin’s first movie for his new home at First National, and it shows. Even so, it has many funny moments, and I recommend watching it — I rate it 3 clowns out of 5.
- Chaplin described the making of this film as ‘like pulling teeth’ in his autobiography. This was due to the mental block he suffered as a result of his unhappy marriage to Mildred Harris.
- Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller visited the Chaplin Studio on LaBrea Avenue in Hollywood while Chaplin was working on this film. Keller and Sullivan were photographed on still-standing sets from Shoulder Arms (1918) communicating with Chaplin.