Limited edition photographs available to purchase.
Sunnyside, released in 1919, was Charlie Chaplin’s third film for First National Films.
In his autobiography, Chaplin recalled that making Sunnyside was “like pulling teeth”. From time to time, like any artist, Chaplin experienced creative blocks; but this was one of the worst in his career. No doubt one cause was his private life. Late in November 1918 he had married a 17-year-old actress, Mildred Harris.
Barely a week after the marriage, he was back at the studio with a plan to put Charlie into a rural setting, as the put-upon man-of-all-work at a seedy country hotel. He took the unit on location to one of the ranches that were still close by in that rural California, and hired horses, cows and cowboys – but the ideas for comedy did not come. After more than three months of idleness and a temporary abandonment of the project, Chaplin suddenly forced himself into a three-week spurt of energetic activity, after which he was able to complete Sunnyside.
It is a more interesting film than Chaplin or his critics gave him credit for. The spectacle of Charlie in a rural setting is novel, and provides some unexpected gags. The ending is ambiguous and whether it is a happy or a sad one is left to the imagination of the viewers. Critics have long argued as to whether the final scene is real or a dream.