Posts from the ‘Charlie Chaplin’ Category

Astor – Goldrush/Modern Times

The Tramp working on the giant machine in the ...

Image via Wikipedia

Tonight I went to the Astor cinema in Prahran to watch Charlie Chaplin‘s The Goldrush and Modern Times as a double feature. Even though I own both of these great movies on DVD I wanted to see how they were on the big screen.

It was amazing. Both films are over 3/4 of a century old, yet they both still retained their power to make an audience laugh and cry. Yes, the dancing breadrolls scene in Goldrush had me blubbering like a baby. Not only is this one of the most iconic of all scenes in cinema, but one of the most beautiful too.

I am thinking of going back to the Astor next week. On Saturday they have the Sound of Music playing whilst on Sunday it’s Forbidden Planet/The Time Machine. I am definitely going in August to see Vertigo and Rear Window.

Goldrush

Modern Times

Monsieur Verdoux

Monseiur Verdoux is a black comedy made by Charlie Chaplin in 1947. It is the first film where he doesn’t portray the Tramp character. (The Jewish Barber from The Great Dictator is really the Tramp, despite what people say!) It was also the first film where Chaplin received negative reviews in America, but this could have been because of the political climate of the time,  with the McCarthy era witch hunts and Chaplin’s sympathetic views of Communism.

There is a similarity in the theme of this film to Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt from four years earlier, where a man marries wealthy old widows and kills them for their money. Orson Welles sold the idea to Chaplin in 1941 and was based on the case of serial killer Henri Landru. Verdoux treats murder as a business, a way to make money. Although the films deals with a serial killer like most Chaplin films it has something to say about wider issues and is decidedly anti-war.

Wars, conflict – it’s all business. One murder makes a villain; millions, a hero. Numbers sanctify, my good fellow!

Martha Raye also features in the film as the woman who Verdoux cannot kill. All his attempts to murder her fail hilariously. Of all the women in the film she is the most crude and un-likeable, the one that we wish Verdoux could do away with. She plays the stereotypical loudmouth American to great comic effect.

While this is not Chaplin’s greatest film it is still quite good in a dark sort of way.

Charlie Chaplin Google Doodle

Google added this tribute to their search page to celebrate the 122 anniversary of Charlie Chaplin‘s birth.

While it’s pretty cool it pales in comparison to the real thing.

Modern Times

The Tramp working on the giant machine in the ...

Image via Wikipedia

Modern Times was Chaplin’s final ‘silent’ film. Although it does feature some sounds and voices and even a (nonsensical) song from the little Tramp it is essentially a silent film. It is also a very brilliant film and is very funny. A Lot of the comedy has to do with the mechanisation of the modern world, and there is the iconic scene where Charlie goes through the giant cogs of the machine, but the funniest stuff has to do with the element of hunger and food. The scene where Charlie eats his lunch with the aid of the eating machine at the start of the film is funny, as is the scene where the Tramp has to feed his co-worker who has become trapped in the machine thanks to Charlie.

I also think that Paulette Goddard is very good in the film as the Gamin (whatever that is), as well as being very beautiful. I especially liked her feisty performance.

The film is perhaps Chaplin’s most critically acclaimed film and whilst I do enjoy it a lot I probably like City Lights and The Circus a little bit more.

The Great Dictator

Chaplin speaks!

I explained the other day the trouble that I have been having in the last few days. Things have been a bit difficult and I have fallen a little behind on my schedule. I am endeavoring to catch up as quickly as possible. It should be three weeks before my roof is repaired after the damage that it received after being battered by last week’s storm. I’ve still been watching movies but not been blogging about the experience so I am a little behind. It will take me a little while to catch up.

The Great Dictator was the first ‘talking picture’ that Charlie Chaplin made, over a decade after the Jazz Singer. Chaplin was the last person to make an (almost) silent film with Modern Times in 1936 but by 1940 he knew that he had to have characters talking. I think the reason why Chaplin took so long to speak (legibly) on film was because he was afraid that his Tramp would lose his mystique and charm. Many people claim that this film is the first Chaplin comedy that doesn’t feature the little Tramp yet the Jewish barber character is really the Tramp even if he’s not wearing the baggy pants and bowler hat.

The real comedy character in this film is not the Jewish barber, as every scene he is in is much too sentimental and schmaltzy, but the character of the dictator, Hynkel, proves that Chaplin could do verbal comedy as well as anyone else at the time (Groucho Marx and W.C. Fields included), as well as his brilliant physical comedy. I especially like where the dictator is addressing the crowd in faux German and some nonsensical English comes out. Brilliant.

The Immigrant

Chaplin2

Image via Wikipedia

By 1917 Charlie Chaplin had starred in several successful short comedies, yet it was this film that shot him to superstardom. It features a tale of a poor immigrant who travels to America to seek his fortune through the boundless opportunity provided in the land of the free.

Charlie was still refining his art so this film feels a lot like the typical silent slapstick film of the early part of last century. The Tramp character had started to develop into a character, more than just a gag. Chaplin started to use emotion and pathos in his comedies at this time which helped to distinguish them from their contemporaries.

This short may not be as great as The Kid, City Lights, The Goldrush or Modern Times but it is funny and shows Chaplin just as he was before he became his most creative.

The Kid

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid

Image via Wikipedia

This is a very short film, at just over 50 minutes in length, but it is very sweet. The comedy in the film feels a little dated, like typical slapstick of the kind that everyone else at the time was doing, yet the thing that makes Chaplin unique here is not the pratfalls that he takes, but the empathy that he evokes from the viewer. This was the first film to ever combine humour with melodrama.

It is the melodrama that sets this film apart from its contemporaries. It is schmaltzy, that’s for sure, but these scenes are some of the most famous in film history, especially the moving scene after the orphanage takes the Kid from the Tramp and after a struggle the two are reunited. The look of relief and tears on the faces of Charlie and 5-year-old Jackie Coogan as they hug each other in that scene is priceless and very moving.

Chaplin would go on to make many more brilliant films after The Kid that combined, namely The Gold Rush, City Light and Modern Times, but this is the film that started it all. Chaplin’s first great movie.

* Yes, The Kid, Jackie Coogan, did go on to play Uncle Fester in the Addams Family 40 years later.