Friday, April 15, 2011

Charlie Chaplin

Today is what would have been Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin's, KBE, better known as Charlie Chaplin, 122 birthday. In 1903 Chaplin got a role as Billy a page boy in William Gillette's "Sherlock Holmes" starring H.A. Saintsbury, who took Chaplin under his wing and manage his talents. In 1905 Gillette came to England to debut his new play "Clarice" but it was a flop. So as a joke on the British press he instead did a one-act curtain-raiser "The Painful Predicament of Sherlock Holmes" with Charlie Chaplin as Billy the pageboy. When "Sherlock Holmes" replaced "Clarice" Chaplin was kept until the end. During this time , Gillette coached  Chaplin in his restrained style. Chaplin made a tour of America from 1910-1912 ( just think 100 years ago at this time, he was in this country for the first time) courtesy of the Fred Carno troupe. When he got back to England Chaplin only stayed 5 months and the came back to the U.S.for a second tour. it was during this time that his act was seen by Mack Sennett, Fatty Arbuckle Minta Durfee and Mable Normand. Bennette, who owned Keystone Film Company, hired Chaplin. The first film " Making a Living" was considered by many not to be good. This is mainly due to Chaplin's initial difficulty adjusting to film acting, but Normand was able to confidence Bennette to give Chaplin another chance. mack Sennette didn't warm up to Chaplin at first and Chaplin believed he was going to be canned because Sennette and Normand had a fight. Instead Chaplin went onto become one of Keystone's biggest stars. Making his debut as "The Tramp" in 1914 in the movie "Kid Auto Races At Venice"
  So this is how Charlie Chaplin started in this country in the film industry. But even though he is what I consider to be the King of the Silent Films my favorite movie he did is actually a talkie, 1940 "The Great Dictator"

  This is because it points out what, at the time, American movie system not want to see... Hitler's hatred of the Jews. At the time America had a neutral relationship with Germany and didn't want to think or believe or maybe even care that anything like this was happening. But the movie became a hit with American audiences and it became Chaplin's highest grossing film. In 1997 it was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress and in 2000 it was listed at #37 on AFI's 100Years...100 Laughs list.

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