The biography of Charles Chaplin, filmmaker extraordinaire. From his formative years in England to his highest successes in America, Chaplin's life, work, and loves are followed. While his screen characters were extremely hilarious, the man behind 'The Little Tramp' was constantly haunted by a sense of loss. Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
During the scene when Chaplin is at work on Shoulder Arms (1918), he asks his cameraman Roland Totheroh how the light is. Totheroh (and the rest of the crew) replies "Better down at Barney's bar". This was the signal for production to end for the day, the "light", to which Chaplin was referring, was the light beer served at Barney Oldfield's bar, which was the favorite drink and hangout for the crew after filming. See more »
When Charlie's brother and others arrive to whisk Charlie and his unedited film away to Utah, the car screeches to a halt. However, the car is on a dirt track and therefore no screeching noise would actually be created. See more »
Ha ha ha ha ha. Come on Charlie stop messing about, we really have to get down to it now. I just hope our friendship survives the day, that's all.
Ha George, don't be so melodramatic.
Well, it's your autobiography Charlie. And as your editor I have to tell you that parts of the manuscript are pretty vague, to say the least. I mean for instance, your mother. Now when did she first lose control? We need to know those facts.
It's hard to say. She could be so wonderful, on good days...
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the triumphs and darker spots to the clown of film
Chaplin isn't really a great bio-pic, but there are moments when Richard Attenborough's direction shines and it's consistently got an amazing Robert Downey Jr. performance as the title character. In fact, this is the kind of movie where the lead actor is so important that some of the major enjoyment and success of the film rests on him/her, oddly enough since it is a varied and superlative ensemble. There are moments when Attenborough's grandiosity gets in the way, and the moments that mark it as being somewhat conventional. What made me pleasantly surprised is what Attenborough *did* decide to show with Chaplin the private man; I thought that he would cut out much of the stuff with Chaplin's penchant for young (usually underage) girls, or some of the things regarding his mother, but most of the notorious facts are put in for good measure to counter-balance some of the pompous, though fascinating, scenes of "cinematic history."
Now as a fan of Chaplin's films and the given acknowledgment that he's one of the most talented comic actors and filmmakers of the 20th century, I do get a little choked up seeing that final clip-show at the Oscars of great clips from his most famous movies. And it's interesting always, from just a movie-buff stand-point, to watch the history behind Chaplin's transition from vaudeville to Max Senett's film company to slowly becoming an independent and world-famous auteur/star. But for the most part the writing and the direction make it entertaining just on that conventional, rise-fall-rise-fall-struggle-success-at-end story with maybe less drugs and a bit more politics than one might usually see (save for one fantastic scene when Chaplin and his brother and friends are sneaking around the film footage of The Kid from the brass who want it for tax purposes).
What makes it almost outstanding, however, is Downey Jr. He's funny as Chaplin when he needs to show how he was a great clown (i.e. the 'old-drunk' bit), he's melancholy when needed, he plays Chaplin as young, middle-aged, and old perfectly, and there's just the slightest details that keep you glued to the screen to see what he'll do next. It's not exactly a breakthrough role as he'd been doing some really good work intermittently in the late 80s, but this is the one that got him recognition by the likes of the Academy, and rightfully so. It's masterful work in a decent tribute to Sir Charles "Tramp" Chaplin, and should delight those looking for a good ensemble and a commanding lead performance.
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