Circus Snakes!

10th January 2020

Many snakes were hired during the making of The Circus – costing from $5 to $30.
On July 17th 1926 the daily production report states “waiting for snakes from Texas” - so the $12.50 ones used during rehearsals on July 12th 1926, for example, cannot have been up to scratch.

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On 20th July 1926 two men with two snakes (presumably from Texas) are used, at the cost of $55 a day, for “shooting snake episode”.

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The only trace of a snake in photographs on The Circus set is this one - the snake is just visible in the basket beside Chaplin.

The Circus

[Charles Chaplin on the set with snakes] - ECCI00026080


The document detailing the scenes shot for The Circus describes a scene filmed on Tuesday July 19th1926. Charlie is eating – a long bread loaf, and “balogne” (obviously a kind of long sausage) and mistakes the snake for the sausage, putting salt on its head, and almost eating it.

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Another idea for the use of snakes: the circus boss needs Merna to die before she reaches 21 so that, according to her will, he will become owner of the business. He puts a snake in her dressing room which bites her.

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A doctor cannot be found, so Charlie rushes to church to pray, and on the way back is knocked over by a car, which happens to be driven by a doctor.

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One storyline proposes that workmen are fond of playing jokes on Charlie, and give him a “lunch basket” – which he opens to find that it belongs to the circus snake charmer.

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