Friday, January 2, 2015

Dope Island: Police brutality caught on camera! - A Cleveland Movie Blog special video report!

I hope I don't have to explain that the footage is from a classic two-reeler that's almost 100 years old, EASY STREET. The big guy manhandling Charlie is a character actor named Eric Campbell who played villains in practically all Chaplin shorts from this period. And there is a Ferguson connection, insofar as Campbell, a huge Scotsman, died in a car wreck the very year EASY STREET came out (check out his Wikipedia biography; it was an incredibly tragic year for the guy all around). Sentimental movie fans refer to him as a "gentle giant" - wow, sound familiar?

I hope you internet kids get the main gag here, that cop Charlie subdues the strongman four times his size by asphyxiating him using the natural gas piped into an old-fashioned street lamp. This must have been back in the days when many such lights still existed, as pre-electric filament technology (but the same lamp has a police-emergency telephone; don't ask me how true to life that is, the two existing side by side). At dusk the city had fellows who went around lighting the gas street lamps by hand, imagery you'll occasionally find in period movies.

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