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Time Traveler Caught in Chaplin Film?

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Charlie Chaplin time traveler

Is this woman using a cell phone -- in 1928?

Time Traveler Caught in Chaplin Film?

Filmmaker George Clarke has spotted something unusual in some "behind the sceens" footage of the 1928 Charlie Chaplin film "The Circus". The footage can be found on the "extras" disc of the DVD. In the brief clip, an old woman (some say it looks like a man in drag) walks into frame talking while holding a small, thin device up to her ear. If the film were made today, we would assume she was talking on a cell phone, but of course this is 1928. So what is the explanation? Is she a time traveler?
Review:
It's puzzling, but here are some considerations:
  • If she were a time traveler with a cell phone, who could she be talking to? A cell phone network did not exist in 1928.
  • Perhaps it is not a cell phone, but another kind of communication device with which she is talking to another time traveler, perhaps.

The time traveler explanation is pretty far out there. Logical explanations include:

  • She is using a Lutz Ferrando ear trumpet, a kind of a hearing aid. But it was used for hearing only, not talking, and the woman in the footage is doing a lot of talking.
  • She is a lunatic talking away into a box of matches or something.

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