Charles Chaplin and Mack Swain star in HIS PREHISTORIC PAST, directed by Charles Chaplin for Mutual Film.

His Prehistoric Past (1914, Charles Chaplin)

Chaplin opens His Prehistoric Past setting it up as a dream sequence, which lets the viewer know the outcome can’t be too dramatic. But the setup is immediate–Chaplin falls asleep on a park bench–so the more relatable elements in the dream don’t have much substance.

In the dream (the majority of Past), Chaplin is a macho man, who beats up all cavemen and wows all the cavewomen. But there’s no establishing the character as wanting to beat all the men and wow all the women… though I suppose the latter is implied.

The short drags quite a bit after the initial fight scene, as Chaplin pals around with the king (Mack Swain) and make goo goo eyes at the king’s favorite concubine (Gene Marsh). Marsh’s performance suggests Past has subtle depth–at times she’s frightened of Chaplin’s affections.

The production values are strong, but otherwise, it’s mostly undistinguished.

1/3Not Recommended


Written, edited and directed by Charles Chaplin; director of photography, Frank D. Williams; produced by Mack Sennett; released by Mutual Film.

Starring Charles Chaplin (Weakchin), Mack Swain (King Lowbrow), Gene Marsh (Sum-Babee), Fritz Schade (Ku-Ku), Cecile Arnold (Cavewoman) and Al St. John (Caveman).


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.