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The Tramp Shows His Face in SoFA

Cinema Survivor
Christopher Gardner

Cinema Survivor: A worker from Golden State Sandblasting stands in front of the rare Charlie Chaplin poster for "Sunnyside."

San Jose demolition crew uncovers a rare example of silent-film art

By Richard von Busack

LATE LAST WEEK, workmen stripping the interior of the former Metro offices at 410 S. First St. in downtown San Jose discovered what 25 cents would have bought in 1919. Two half-rotted and unremovable posters for silent comedian Charlie Chaplin's film Sunnyside were found glued to the cement wall where they'd been hidden for more than 70 years.

The painted color posters advertised the Aug. 10­17, 1919, local run of the Chaplin picture at Turner and Dahnken's T&D Theater, which was located nearby at 236 S. First St. Gary Bindinger, foreman of the crew from Golden State Sandblasting, said that he's often come across old circus posters and newspapers when stripping buildings, but never has he found anything so old.

"Too bad we can't save them," he added. The building is being readied for the August arrival of Image Network, a marketing firm.

How was Sunnyside? Pretty good, according to contemporary accounts. Charlie plays a daydreaming farm hand who lets the cows run wild and gets in trouble for it when they invade a church. Despite his laziness, he eventually wins the hand of frequent leading lady Edna Purviance (who replaced Mabel Normand in 1915 and starred in most of the Tramp's films into the early 1920s).

Sunnyside was a plum feature for the T&D Theater, which raised its ticket price for the occasion. The bill included, in addition to Chaplin, a second feature titled Choosing a Wife and some "refined vaudeville" from the Winter Garden Quartette.

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From the July 18-24, 1996 issue of Metro

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