US Comedian Charley Chase's Long-Lost Film DiscoveredIn Kyoto
It has been confirmed that a film among the collection of the Toy Film Museum, Mibubamba-cho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, is a valuable film starring Charley Chase (1893-1940), who is recognized as an American comedian ranked in the tier after Chaplin's. The museum is engaged in unearthing and restoring prewar silent films.
The museum has a collection of "toy cinematographs" for family use that were sold between the Taisho Period and the early Showa Period, as well as approximately 1,000 films. Most of them are silent films from Japan and abroad that were cut and sold in lengths of a few tens of seconds to a few minutes. Rare films, including a historical play starring Matsunosuke Onoe, have been discovered so far.
A 53-second film in the museum's collection with the Japanese title "Kigeki Kyameraman," or comedy cameraman, was screened last fall at the Kyoto International Film and Art Festival. Details of the film had been unknown until Junko Iio, a comic film researcher living in Kadoma City, Osaka Prefecture, saw it for the first time, studied Chase's filmography from the story setting, and surmised that it was his 1924 film, "Why Men Work." She consulted with a researcher in the United States who found out that the film's scenes matched phots and articles in movie magazines of that time, and thus identified the film which had been believed to no longer exist.
The discovered part corresponds with the climax of the original over-ten-minute slapstick film, in which Chase, in the role of a cameraman, rode a motorcycle to chase a plane taking off, and bumped into a building.
>From the 1910s, Chase appeared in more than about 300 movies, and also directed many films. As his filmography has a narrative aspect, he has been studied as a comedian second to Chaplin and Keaton. Iio said, "Fans and researchers in every country are very happy about the discovery of the long-lost film."
It is not clear whether the film was released in Japan or not. Yoneo Ota, the representative of the museum, has made an appeal for information, saying, "We would like to make progress in the research as to how this film was distributed. Some films that can lead to a discovery like this may be still hidden in people's houses."
The museum can be contacted at 075-803-0033.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)