The first of twelve short films Charlie Chaplin wrote and directed for Mutual Films, The Floorwalker is a typical example of the kind of set-inspired shorts Chaplin would make for the studio. Chaplin often came up with a setting - a department store, a health resort - and then improvised comedy on set, without a script. On the set of The Floorwalker, as well as many other Chaplin shorts, comedy did not automatically spring forth on day one of filming. It wasn't until Chaplin decided to install one of those newfangled moving staircases called "escalators" on the set that inspiration hit him. The resulting film has a bit more story than the usual entry, and lacks some of the freewheeling atmosphere most of the subsequent shorts share.
At Mutual, Chaplin invariably used the same stock cast in film after film. Burly
Eric Campbell was always the heavy, pretty Edna Purviance the heroine,
and lanky Albert Austin a foil for Charlie, often in multiple
roles. Halfway through the series, Chaplin
added rotund Henri Bergman to his stock company, another performer who
would assay multiple roles within one film, and was often called on by
Chaplin to play a woman. ½ - JB