The Immigrant

The Immigrant

Infobox Film
name = The Immigrant

caption = Theatrical poster for "The Immigrant" (1917)
director = Charles Chaplin
Edward Brewer (technical director)
producer = John Jasper
writer = Charles Chaplin (scenario)
Vincent Bryan (scenario)
Maverick Terrell (scenario)
starring = Charles Chaplin
Edna Purviance
Eric Campbell
music =
cinematography = Roland H. Totheroh
George C. Zalibra
editing = Charles Chaplin
distributor = Mutual Film Corporation
released = June 17, 1917
runtime = 20 minutes
country = USA
language = Silent film
English intertitles
budget =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
amg_id = 1:24408
imdb_id = 0008133

"The Immigrant" (also called "Broke") is a 1917 short comedy film starring the Charlie Chaplin Tramp character as an immigrant coming to the United States who is accused of theft on the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, and befriends a young woman along the way. It also stars Edna Purviance and Eric Campbell.

The movie was written and directed by Chaplin.

According to Kevin Brownlow and David Gill's documentary series "Unknown Chaplin", the first scenes to be written and filmed take place in what became the movie's second half, in which the penniless Tramp finds a coin and goes for a meal in a restaurant, not realising that the coin has fallen out of his pocket. It was not until later that Chaplin decided the reason the Tramp was penniless was that he had just arrived on a boat from Europe, and used this notion as the basis for the first half. Purviance reportedly was required to eat so many plates of beans during the many takes to complete the restaurant sequence (in character as another immigrant who falls in love with Charlie) that she became physically ill.

The scene in which Chaplin's character kicks an immigration officer was cited later as evidence of his anti-Americanism when he was forced to leave the United States in 1952. In 1998, "The Immigrant" was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".


* Charles Chaplin - Immigrant
* Edna Purviance - Immigrant
* Eric Campbell - The head waiter
* Albert Austin - A diner
* Henry Bergman - The artist


The film begins aboard a steamer crossing the Atlantic Ocean, and initially showcases the misadventures of an unnamed immigrant (Chaplin) who finds himself in assorted mischief while, among other things, playing cards, eating in a mess hall, and avoiding seasick passengers. Along the way, he befriends another unnamed immigrant (Purviance) who is travelling to America with her ailing mother. Upon arrival in America, the tramp and Edna part company.

Later, hungry and broke, the tramp finds a coin on the street and goes into a nearby restaurant, where he orders a plate of beans. There, he is reunited with Edna and discovers her mother is dead. Charlie orders a meal for Edna.

As they eat, they watch the restaurant's burly head waiter (Campbell) and other waiters attack and forceably eject a patron who cannot or will not pay for his meal. Charlie, intimidated by the waiter, checks for his coin and discovers it has fallen out a hole in his pocket. Terrified of facing the same treatment as the man he saw thrown out, the tramp begins planning how he will fight the huge man. Soon, however, he finds another coin (or possibly the one he had earlier) on the floor and manages to retrieve it. He gives it to the waiter only to be thunderstruck when the waiter reveals the coin to be fake. Once again, Charlie prepares for the fight of his life. Just then, a visiting artist spots Edna and Charlie and offers them a job to pose for a painting. The two agree. The artist pays for his own meal and leaves a tip for the waiter. The tip is enough to cover Charlie and Edna's meal. Afterwards, outside a marriage license office, the tramp proposes marriage to Edna who is coy and reluctant until Charlie physically carries the laughing girl into the office.


Episode 1 of the 1983 documentary series "Unknown Chaplin" reveals that Chaplin developed the storyline for "The Immigrant" as filming progressed. Initially, the movie began as a comedy set in an artists cafe, with Purviance as a brightly dressed patron. This plot was abandoned almost immediately, before Chaplin's character was introduced, the documentary states, and Chaplin began again, with a story, still set in a cafe, about a man who has never been in a restaurant before displaying terrible table manners before meeting a lovely girl (Purviance) and shaping up. Initially, Henry Bergman played the bully-ish head waiter, but Chaplin eventually replaced him with Eric Campbell. According to "Unknown Chaplin", Chaplin developed the idea of the tramp and Purviance's character being immigrants when he realized he needed more plot to justify the restaurant scenes. After filming the film's opening sequences of the arrival in America, he reshot parts of the restaurant scene to be consistent with the new plot (bringing Bergman back in a new role as an artist who resolves the subplot of Charlie being unable to pay for dinner), and added the epilogue in which the Tramp and Purviance are married.

External links

*imdb title|id=0008133|title=The Immigrant

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