The Immigrant

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The Immigrant (also called Broke) is a 1917 American comedy short 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".




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. The tramp, feeling sorry for the two penniless women, attempts to secretly place his winnings from his card game in the woman's (Purviance) pocket, but ends up being mistakenly accused of being a pickpocket. The woman (Purviance) manages to clear the tramp's name. Upon arrival in America, the tramp and Edna part company.

Later, hungry and broke, the tramp finds a coin on the street, pockets it, 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 forcibly eject a patron who is short 10 cents in paying his bill. Charlie, intimidated by the waiter, checks all over his clothes for money. 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 fallen from the head waiter's pocket onto the floor and made many failed attempts to retrieve it without notice. He gives a coin from his right pocket (most likely the one he found in the street earlier) 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 offers to pay for Edna and Charlie's meal, but Charlie declines the offer several times for reasons of etiquette, intending to eventually accept the artist's offer; however, he's dismayed when the artist does not renew his offer to pay at the last moment. The artist pays for his own meal and leaves a tip for the waiter. Charlie notices that the tip is enough to cover Charlie and Edna's meal and, without the artist noticing, palms the tip and presents it to the waiter as his own payment for his and Edna's meal. As a final riposte, he lets the waiter keep the remaining change - one small coin - after paying his bill. 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.

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