The 10 Most Intriguing Lost Screen Tests of All Time

For every sure-bet in movie casting, there are scores of questionable decisions on whether an actor can handle a certain role. And that’s where the screen test comes in.

A screen test provides the opportunity for a director and producer to determine whether a specific part should go to an actor who might not be the obvious choice for the role. David O. Selznick memorably shot scores of screen tests to find the right actors that would bring Margaret Mitchell’s characters to life in the film version of “Gone with the Wind” – except for the role of Rhett Butler, which was always envisioned for Clark Gable. Several decades later, George Lucas brought together a line-up of promising under-the-radar talent to test for his “Star Wars.”

Continue reading


The Bootleg Files: The Hero

BOOTLEG FILES 823: “The Hero” (1917 short starring Billy West and Oliver Hardy).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A blatant (if effective) rip-off of Charlie Chaplin’s act.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: There is no great call for a Billy West revival.

When Charlie Chaplin’s popularity exploded into superstardom status during the mid-1910s, the demand of his films became greater than his ability to create original new works. To fill the void, a number of comic actors began to dress up in Chaplin’s distinctive Little Tramp costume and make-up and churn out short films of a Chaplinesque nature. Most of these imitators were not that special and their work has been lost to oblivion. But one copycat created a near-perfect facsimile of Chaplin’s act, to the point that his films were occasionally marketed as being genuine Chaplin films.
Continue reading


A Woman of Paris: Chaplin’s Misunderstood Masterwork

Charlie Chaplin’s “A Woman of Paris” (1923) has been one of the most misjudged films of all time, for both its content and its history. In this episode, we take a new look at this work with Wes D. Gehring, author of “Charlie Chaplin and A Woman of Paris: The Genesis of a Misunderstood Masterpiece.”

The episode can be heard here.

The Circus (1928): Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray]

Chaplin’s “The Circus” is the perfect encapsulation of what The Little Tramp is and why he’s so special. He’s an underdog hero that always seems to keep the good faith, despite the fact that he’s in constant pain, and almost never gets a happy ending. There’s something so insightful and poetic about the truth of “The Little Tramp” character. We root for him, and we cheer for him, and at the end of the day he doesn’t really get the women, or the fortune, or even much fulfillment. And that’s why the character is so mesmerizing and engaging.

Continue reading