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Charlie - The Life And Art Of Charles Chaplin

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It's hard to believe, but once there was a world without Charlie Chaplin.
Then one day in 1914, a strange new face and form emerged from the crowd.
Kid Auto Races at Venice, an iconography was born.
Chaplin's persona is so rich and such a weave of so many things.
But he also just has this desperate need to be in front of the camera.
That's the gag, him enjoying being in front of the camera.
They push him aside so they can see the auto races they're ostensibly filming.
He keeps coming back, and he wants to be there.
That desire to be in front of a machine...
...that gets you in front of people that he harnessed, partly out of wisdom.
Maybe he never knew what he was doing.
He just harnessed that desire to be seen, to be the center.
He was 24. He'd been on-stage...
...mostly in English music halls, since he was 10.
Mack Sennett hired him for the movies out of Fred Karno's company...
... then touring America, for $ 150 a week.
This was his third film, the second to be released...
...but the first in which he appeared in his immortal Tramp costume.
Chaplin always said he improvised it on the spot...
...using clothing he found lying around the studio.
In the next three years, Chaplin would make 62 short films...
... writing and directing the last 26 himself.
By 1917, he was becoming, thanks to this new, universal medium...
... the greatest comic icon the world had ever known.
The films were fast, funny, seemingly casual...
... yet ever more complex in construction.
But the icon was still in search of the iconographic sequences...
... that would define his genius.
They would come to him in the years ahead slowly...
...often enough painfully.
Amid the distractions of being the most famous man in the world...
...he always felt the pressure to do more.
He would feel the need to speak to the yearning human heart.
He would feel the need to speak from his own heart...
...about the dehumanization of labor in Modern Times...
...or about the looming threat of fascism, personified by a monster...
... who bore an uncanny resemblance, which everyone noticed...
... to his own beloved Tramp.
Yet always there was the terrible need to be as funny as ever...
... to command the audience's laughter, its affectionate delight...
...and, yes, its most basic sentiments as well.
The pressures were relentless, all-consuming...
...and to the still youthful Chaplin of The Kid, not yet fully imaginable.
Thirty-one years after The Kid, Chaplin made Limelight.
It was set in 1914, the year he made his first movie...
...and the year World War I blew away the Edwardian world... which he was raised and knew his first success.
It's about a famous comedian whose once simple, perfect rapport...
... with his audience has been lost.
Phyllis, Henry!
Phyllis, Henry, stop that! What do you think you're doing?
You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, fighting like that.
All right, Phyllis, you stay in the box. Henry, hurry up!
One night after dinner, we were seated rather late...
...and Charlie and I were there. He was going through a book...
...of comedians.
And he came across a picture of his father...
...who was standing very much as Chaplin stood...
...with the cane and the hand on the hip.
And he said, "You know, he lost the ability to make people laugh.
And there have been comics who have this terrible dream...
...that they're performing, and they do something...
...that should get a laugh. And they look out to this black, cavernous space.
And there's not a sound, not a laugh. "
Then he paused. He said, "I have this dream, recurring dream. "
Like his Calvero, Chaplin himself had lost his audience.
The fine, careless rapture of their beginnings...
...soured by political and moral criticism of him.
Limelight is, emotionally speaking, his most autobiographical film...
...for no star ever more desperately needed his audience.
It's this hunger for the crowd and this fear of the crowd...
... that drove this life.
You can draw a caricature of Chaplin with just a couple of brushstrokes...
...and you know who you're alluding to.
The graphic of his body was just so arresting.
And he was a smart guy. He had dark hair. He darkened his eyebrows.
Put that mustache on there. That hat framed things.
Choosing of big shoes pointing outward.
The body was always a shape that you could identify.
In the Bronx, when I was very much into the break-dance scene...'d meet a young kid who might not be able to describe Chaplin to you...
...but he had a step they called the Charlie.
And it was-- You know, it was obviously taken from Chaplin.
So he's in our cultural heritage whether we're conscious of him or not.
Limelight was not Chaplin 's first filmed evocation of his music-hall past.
In 1915, he re-created his great Karno success, Mumming Birds, on film.
For the movie, he invented a second character for himself to play...
...a tipsy, touchy citizen of the balcony...
...quick to register his displeasure with the performance.
If he feared the audience's indifference, he equally feared its volatility...
... which this figure personified.
The music-hall audience was a tough one.
This movie only slightly exaggerates the disdain it could instantly mobilize.
For Karno, Chaplin had played the equally tipsy swell in the box...
... whose need to dominate the stage matched Chaplin's.
The thing I remember from his autobiography... the extraordinary account. He's like 5 or 6, I think.
And he goes on, really, when his mother cracks up, breaks down, on-stage.
And his mother had been a performer of some reputation.
And the way he describes it... isn't simply that he goes on to rescue his mother...
...although I think that was part of it.
There's almost the rivalry with the mother.
And there's almost that feeling that performance... the emotional core of the man.
In theaters, Chaplin won admirers...
...a few hundred at a time over many months.
The movies offered him audiences in their millions over just a few weeks.
But the demand for fresh material was relentless and cruel.
What Chaplin did for Keystone, you can see just fleetingly in moments.
There's no aggregate transformation to great Chaplin.
Little bits of business like in Dough and Dynamite...
...where he makes doughnuts by flinging dough around his wrists.
These are moments that no one else was doing, that endeared him to the public.
It's his early Sennett ones.
In those things, you felt he was...
...feeling his way. He hadn't reached that point of domination.
That was one of the most valuable things Chaplin did.
He came in to work with the Keystone Kops.
He showed them how to not be breaking their tailbones every third week.
They had never learned how to fall. It was like jump school.
What's fascinating at Keystone, if you look carefully at the films...
...once he started to direct them, he's gone to school.
There's one lovely film, not very important...
...but he discovered you could cut. You could actually...
...throw somebody out of the screen in one shot...
...and then have them come in, in the next shot.
The studio sought him out after Tillie's Punctured Romance, a huge hit...
...the first feature-length comedy. lt had a huge stage star, Marie Dressler...
...and had incredible distribution.
Tillie's Punctured Romance isn't a Chaplin film.
It was directed by Sennett, and Chaplin didn't think much of it.
But he enjoyed working with Marie Dressler.
And it really established him on a really grand scale... that after 35 films he could announce to Mack Sennett:
"All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl. "
The public had begun to notice Chaplin even before Tillie.
He was on his way...
...first to George Spoor and "Broncho Billy" Anderson 's Essanay Company...
... 1 250 a week and a $ 10,000 bonus.
Tramps were everywhere in show business at the turn of the last century.
There were tramp comics, jugglers, singers...
...mildly discomfiting outsiders to the middle class audience.
But none had Chaplin's delicacy or winsomeness...
...or his ability to convey slightly subversive thought through pantomime.
His costume and makeup made him at once an abstract and a universal figure.
The gags might still be as crude as this bop on the head...
...but only Chaplin would think of planting on his victim 's forehead...
...a sweet little good-night kiss.
He had a unique gift for turning a simple object into something else.
This palm-frond toothbrush is an early example.
The great thing that happened for Charlie Chaplin at Essanay...
...was that he began to be able to experiment with his own creativity... a way that was going to make him an artist.
All the things that he's going to develop...
...and become as an artist...
...he gets the chance to play with and try in 1915.
Chaplin goes over to Essanay to do his first film, His New Job...
...which is a kind of slap at Keystone.
The fictional studio was called Lockstone.
Its director, played by Charles Inslee...
...bears a suspicious resemblance to Mack Sennett.
Chaplin wasn't always the Tramp.
A Woman was not the first time he played, quite fetchingly, in drag.
We're gonna have the cutting in to medium when something is needed.
And in The Bank we're gonna have the "give the rose to the leading lady"...
...have the little sad moment.
We're gonna have the superimpositions of imagined things.
We're gonna have the "it was all a dream. "
And in Work, there's this astonishing image...
...of him pulling a big cart with one big man riding in it...
...up a lonely, bleak hill. And you look at this, and you think:
"Where are we here? Are we in an lngmar Bergman movie?"
In A Night Out, you see these two playing drunks...
...absolute perfection. The whole thing is, "We're drunk.
We must not fall down, however. "
He's working with Ben Turpin as a unit.
The two of them, physically, are paired impeccably.
So here's Chaplin able to come over, get a new job at a new place...
...define himself comically and use another chosen comic actor...
...who perfectly suits what he wants to do.
I love the Essanays...
...because they're so completely and utterly street comedies.
In By the Sea, he and his adversary are busy on the beach...
...socking one another, falling down.
In the long shot, in the distance...
...a lone swimmer goes down to test the water.
I mean, he's oblivious that a movie's being shot.
You're looking at people out in the frame, over there... their lives and doing what they do.
Discovering the range of film 's possibility at Essanay studio in Niles, California...
... Chaplin made a discovery of another kind: Edna Purviance.
A former secretary, she always seemed on-screen a real girl, not a glamour girl.
Chaplin was enchanted. Edna would make 35 films with him.
She became the first of the three great loves...
...of his maturity.
Edna Purviance, who really wasn't much of a professional actress...
...comes into these films and completely holds down her corner of it.
Whatever is asked of her, she can do.
But she's obviously someone he respected...
...and treated more as an equal.
In The Tramp, the film opens. There he is in the Tramp outfit.
He's on a lonely road. He's doing his little waddle down the road.
You see the prototypical Charlie Chaplin.
This is recognizably who we accept as the Chaplin image.
He has a little whiskbroom that he takes out and cleans the dust off himself...
...when a car goes by, but the camera needs to serve him.
It needs to come up close so he can dust out his pocket.
So, what you see is, he's taken control of the camera.
The film was prototypical in another way.
Despite his confident air, Charlie's Tramp will not get the girl.
Her heart belongs to another.
Chaplin would almost always lose out to normally handsome...
...normally well-dressed guys.
It was one of his points of reference with his audience.
The ending of The Tramp, it doesn't resolve. He does not get the girl.
He turns away and walks away from the camera on a lonely road...
...heading toward the horizon.
Here is where the Tramp and Chaplin really do come together.
There was another coming together in those years...
...a reunion with his beloved half-brother Sydney.
He's the patron at the bar in this Sennett comedy.
Chaplin helped him get a contract with the studio.
A star in the English movie halls, he was an adept movie comedian.
In one sentence, I'll tell you about the elder Sydney.
Charlie said about him, "He was never impressed by anything. "
Not, certainly, by the men in suits from the Mutual Film Corporation.
Sydney helped Chaplin get a raise to $ 10,000 a week... a signing bonus of $ 150,000.
His 12 Mutual films of 1916 and 1917...
...contain his first truly immortal gags... the escalator sequence from the first, The Floorwalker.
We sometimes forget the risks the silent comedians ran... they courted our laughter.
There are no nets available to the fireman...
...but this thrill sequence was only a beginning for Chaplin.
What's truly wonderful about his Mutual films... the ever increasing length, intricacy and subtlety of his gag sequences.
This man had skill, unimaginable skill.
He was a superhero.
He was the most endearing superhero... could ever want to watch.
One A.M. , which is a 18-minute-- The whole short...
...with the guy just trying to get into bed.
If you took a performer and that was the only thing they ever did...
...that would be enough.
Yet he did it again and again and innovated and, I mean, you know....
You know, in the '80s, I was thinking about Chaplin a lot...
...and I talked to a video-store guy. And he said:
"You can put anything on the monitor in the window, and people will pass by.
But if you put Chaplin, people will stop. "
If you're walking along the sidewalk and see a black-and-white image...
...first of all, the black-and- white image is so arresting.
And you see this almost flickers maybe like an abstract of action.
The moment you stop, you see it as a human being...
...but a wild, like a flailing version of a human being.
I'm thinking of a movie like The Rink...
...Chaplin and his great foil, Eric Campbell, a big guy.
They're on skates. They do this stuff, and people just stop and look at that...
...because the abandon with which people are falling backwards...
...falling forward on the skates, just perfectly still.
There's a rhythm there between wild abandon...
...and it almost, like, mirrors social control.
Something wild, and then there's hell to civilize...
...and then back, of course, to wild.
Chaplin the Tramp, he tried to keep up appearances.
He never settled that to be slovenly and tramp-like.
He pretended that he had social aspirations.
In Easy Street he plays a paroled convict...
... who will eventually become an unlikely policeman.
The very title, Easy Street, suggests East Street...
...which is the street on which he was born.
That wonderful evocation of South London.
The police are avoiding Easy Street...
...and it takes a tramp to clean up the violence.
It takes one of them to clean it up.
As the cop, he tries to subdue the bully...
...and he uses his truncheon to hit him on the head.
And he hits him and hits him and hits him.
No effect. It's like a nightmare.
And then, in a display of strength, the bully bends down a gas lamppost...
...and that's Charlie's opportunity to jump on his back and gas him.
This set design, one street crossed by another to form a T...
... was based on a street where Chaplin had lived as a boy.
He would use the design in many pictures.
Memories of London's East End scored every aspect of his work.
It's as great as it was years ago.
I mean, it's just a wonderful, wonderful short...
...because it'll always be funny. It'll be funny 1 000 years from now.
In 1916, the press reported a nationwide Chaplin impulse or celebrity craze.
It didn't comment on some of the very odd impulses that moved his character.
There's an exquisite ladylike daintiness to him very often...
...and I think that women in one way appealed to him...
...for that way of moving, that rather hesitant, fluttery way of moving.
He does it a lot. He simpers.
I don't think Chaplin was a simperer in real life...
...but he was fascinated by, you know, this sort of little coy shake of the head... a seductive measure.
I'm not even sure women really act like that.
Certainly, uncomplicated Edna didn't.
She was, just then, very much a part of his happiness.
Never thereafter would Chaplin's life be as uncomplicated... it was during his year with Mutual.
They did love each other dearly, and there was a motherly quality...
...along with her luminous beauty, that attracted Chaplin to Edna.
I think she was placid and a calming force... opposed to his rather demanding and high-energized personality.
The relationship with Edna Purviance is something very interesting in his life.
Obviously, Edna meant a great deal to him.
She must have been an enchanting woman...
...and I think that this satisfied something in him very much.
They did have a very close and passionate relationship...
...for two or three years. Women got jealous of the work...
...because when he was working, he didn't have time for anybody.
Every woman in his life became a little bit jealous of the work...
...and probably Edna did. And she had a flirtation...
...and this was too much for Charlie.
Things went wrong after that.
Things were still going right for them...
... when Chaplin made The Immigrant in 1917.
It was often broadly funny, yet also one of his most complex films to date.
It would sympathetically take up an issue that had troubled America for years...
... the tidal wave of lower class European immigration.
What other film at the time do you have...
...where half the film is set on an immigrant boat?
And certainly, it's a comic view of it, but it is about immigration.
It was, as well, an innocently romantic film.
The line was, "We don't like this going after the girl...
...and mooning after women. We don't like that Chaplin.
We like the Chaplin of the earlier shorts. "
They say the same thing about Woody Allen.
The thing that lingers in your mind with the character the Tramp, Little Tramp... the sweetness, you know...
...that innocence, that purity. But at the same time...
...there is that other side, that rascal.
I remember watching The Immigrant again recently...
...and for a second being really stunned.
Chaplin is playing cards.
He loans a guy money, and the guy gives him his pistol as collateral.
And when Chaplin wins, the guy gets violent.
And I was stunned when Chaplin pulls the gun on him...
...and gives him this look, like, "Hey! " You know, just for that second.
And then he immediately goes back to this pure being, this innocent thing.
He was ever willing to kick authority in the pants...
... though genteel America muttered disapproval of his anarchic side.
I think we've definitely lost comic patience.
Everything needs to be now, and what those guys did--
I mean, what Chaplin was able to do was milk a gag...
...and really stretch it out and really draw it out.
Even if you knew what the result was gonna be, it was still hilarious.
It's the starving Tramp walking outside a restaurant looking at the door... know, thinking, "God, I'd love to go in and have a meal there. "
He picks up the coin on the ground, dumps it in his pocket...
...heads towards the restaurant. Ding! lt hits the ground.
He goes inside, has his meal.
Some guy walks in holding the coin that he dropped.
That gag lasts for, I don't know, seven, eight minutes, and you're there.
You can't take your eyes off him.
You need more than comedy, more than laughs, to make a feature film.
A feature film has to have some kind of an emotional string to it.
Chaplin called it his favorite two-reeler.
In fact, in one of his later books...
...he said The Immigrant touched him more than any film he made.
He liked the ending in particular, that these two young immigrants...
...getting married on a rainy day. He thought it was very poetic.
I, frankly, prefer the longer, more ambitious Chaplin films...
...even to the funniest of the early films.
Comedy transposition, the idea of one thing suggests another...
...was not unique to Chaplin, but it was one of his great gifts.
The Pawnshop is a great example of that where, as a pawnbroker's assistant...
...he's asked to look at an alarm clock. And of course, in his hands...
...he becomes the doctor and the clock becomes his patient.
Late, middle, early Chaplin, his gift for transforming one object into another...
...remained central to his comic genius.
These transformations...
...deliberate manipulations of our perceptions of the real...
... were also central to modernity...
... with its fluid, ever-changing definitions of what constitutes reality.
This idea of transformation goes back right to the start.
I can't quite think where it comes from. Everything he looked at...
...suggested the possibility of something else.
My favorite one is where he has to move a whole heap of bentwood chairs...
...and so he puts them all on his back. He becomes a hedgehog.
I just think that's wonderful.
He could certainly bring things to life...
...bring something inanimate and static and give it life...
...give it some kind of movement and life.
And that was certainly a great gift that he had.
Old-fashioned man that he was, Chaplin would have denied being a surrealist.
But unconsciously, that's what he was.
Who else would have thought of turning a massage into a wrestling match?
Or a fire engine into a cappuccino machine?
"All that is solid melts into air, " Karl Marx said.
In Chaplin, all that seems solid melts into something else.
Of his many gifts, this one is among his most enduring and endearing...
...sophisticated visions converted into playful, childlike action.
Skeptical Sydney was one of Charlie's perfect comic foils.
But he remained even better at business.
His year at Mutual ending, Chaplin received an attractive overture...
...from First National.
This time, the Chaplins had a very firm ideal in mind.
They asked him to come to New York to negotiate a deal...
...and so he got on the train with Sydney...
...who was going to do the negotiating for him.
And he said to Sydney "All right, Sydney, you go in, and you negotiate.
And you know I want a million dollars. "
Sydney said "All right, now as for you, if you're going to play your violin... gotta stay in the bathroom and play because it's terrible. "
So Charlie went in the bathroom, stood in the tub, empty of water...
...and played his violin to soothe himself while Sydney went down the corridor.
He came back, and he said "Charlie, they're offering $500,000. "
Charlie said, "We're not gonna even talk to them about that.
You gotta go back. " He went back, 600,000.
"You gotta go back. " He went back.
And finally he came back, and he said:
"Charlie, they've come up to $ 750,000 and not a nickel more. "
And Charlie, bowing away, said, "Tell them I am an artist.
I know nothing about money. All I know is, I want a million dollars. "
And Sydney went back, and he came running back in. He said:
"Charlie, throw away your violin. Get yourself a bull fiddle.
You got a million dollars. "
He began building a studio in the groves of La Brea Avenue.
Chaplin created this time-lapse sequence for a promotional short.
His dream studio took the form of a poor English lad's dream of luxury...
...suburban London façades.
Think of it. In a matter of three years...
... Charles Spencer Chaplin, age 28, had become a millionaire...
...and one of the world's most famous people.
Most important to him, his First National deal granted him...
...absolute control over his films and his own destiny.
In all of movie history, no rise was ever more meteoric than his.
He had to give them the performance because he knew better than anyone...
...what he wanted and what he needed from the actor...
...and the best way to do it was to show.
And this isn't very much different...
...from what an actor/manager did in the English music halls.
This is standard practice of what Chaplin knew. The actor was also the director.
Chaplin was not necessarily a terribly articulate man.
He was just a Cockney lad.
And I think he had trouble with words, particularly in his early days.
The easiest way to tell someone how to do something was just to show them...
...because no one was more articulate than Chaplin, physically.
He has his own studio, his own team.
He can take as much time as he likes, which is really what he wanted.
Chaplin didn't just use the first shot.
He would take a shot not twice or three times...
...but he would take a shot 20 times if he was to get it right.
This was something completely new.
So was this. In Spring, 1918...
... with America now a combatant in World War I...
... Chaplin and the movies ' other greatest stars...
...Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks...
...embarked on a personal appearance tour selling Liberty Bonds.
It was the first major demonstration of movie stardom 's unprecedented power.
Everywhere they went, the crowds were vast and impassioned.
They sold millions of dollars' worth of bonds.
The tour was especially important for Chaplin.
He had come under the first personal criticism of his life...
...for not enlisting in the English army.
Mostly this came from the press, trying to create a scandal.
Chaplin professed his willingness to serve...
...but the British government knew he was infinitely more valuable...
...raising money for the war effort. The Liberty Loan adventure proved that.
But this was the first mild controversy...
...of a life that would eventually be plagued...
...occasionally dominated by them.
Later that year, he made this short, promoting another Liberty Loan drive.
Syd Chaplin played the hapless Kaiser.
His most lasting wartime work was Shoulder Arms. The Tramp in uniform.
He'd always been a brave little guy...
...but he'd never been tested on such a huge and tragic field.
The spirit was willing, maybe a little too much so.
Chaplin began production of Shoulder Arms...
...while the First World War was being fought.
And many in the Hollywood community were persuading him not to do it.
But Chaplin went on with it, trusting his own artistic instincts.
But he had doubts. He was unsure of the result.
But when the film was released, it was a huge hit.
It was one of the most popular films of the entire First World War period.
The picture was released just weeks before the armistice... it didn't do much for morale.
But the movie proved especially popular with returning doughboys.
They thought it caught, humorously, something of the horror...
...and absurdity of trench warfare.
Capturing a large enemy group, the Tramp becomes an unlikely hero.
But his treatment of the aristocratic officer aligns him...
... with the common people of both sides.
Not that the Tramp was allowed to capitalize on his heroism.
That would have been out of character.
But he was allowed time for a little cross-cultural wooing with Edna.
In real life, their romance was coming to an end.
Though, typically, Edna was a good sport about it.
He loved young girls. The younger the better, and he really did.
He only saw pureness and innocence and youth and beauty.
He was a romantic.
In principal, it might have been okay to marry these girls of 16 or 17.
The big problem was this: That they looked great...
...but having got them home, they were not very rewarding partners.
Chaplin met Mildred Harris, a young actress, then 16 years old...
... while working on Shoulder Arms.
Seen here in Cecil B. DeMille's...
...Fool's Paradise, she convinced him, falsely...
... that she was pregnant. And he married her three days after his film's release.
They were never happy together, and a portion of the public...
... was not happy thinking of Chaplin with a child bride.
In the summer of 1919, however, she delivered a baby...
... who died three days later.
Chaplin 's personal anguish was reflected in his blocked creative life at the time.
It's remarkable that Chaplin always made what he wanted...
...and put his own money behind it...
...and would do it and do it and do it until he got it right.
I mean, he was Kubrick before Kubrick, and Kubrick didn't use his own money.
That megalomaniac sense of "I've got a vision.
Although, maybe I'm not seeing it yet, but I'll see it when it's there.
I'll know it when I see it. And let's shoot for a year. "
Which really is not an exaggeration in some cases. "Until we get it. "
That's crazy.
Perhaps justifiable craziness in this case.
Starting, stopping and starting again on major productions...
... Chaplin cobbled together this film, A Day's Pleasure...
...from old footage and some new material, trying to satisfy First National...
... which was desperately pressing him for releasable product.
I've never been clear about who chose when to use a title card.
And Chaplin uses them as brilliantly as anybody in some movies...
...and then other movies-- There's one where the family is driving a Model T...
...and they're resurfacing the road.
And quite clearly, a dump truck dumps a lot of tar onto the road...
...but somebody decided they had to put a title that said, "Tar. " So one word:
Then you come back and see people with their feet stuck.
The old "shoes nailed to the stage" gag...
...which Chaplin uses great because his feet are stuck in the tar.
His major preoccupation was The Kid.
He'd seen the remarkable Jackie Coogan in vaudeville, signed him...
... then appeared with him before this assemblage of visiting exhibitors...
...promoting his unfinished dream.
Laughter is very unpredictable. You cannot sit down and write out:
"We will do this, this, this and this. That is the gag. "
And then do it and hope it will be funny.
It's quite true that weeks and sometimes months would go by...
...when he didn't have the inspiration, and everybody sat around the studio...
...and he would or wouldn't come in, but nothing would happen.
That happened very badly before he started on The Kid, for instance.
Mildred Harris sued Chaplin for divorce in 1920.
Her attorneys threatened to attach his negative.
Chaplin fled to Salt Lake City to finish editing The Kid.
He ate women up, and they came and they went in extraordinary numbers.
If you're leading a life like that, you're gonna have trouble sooner or later.
You're gonna get involved with women who are too young...
...women who've got dangerous mothers or dangerous lawyers.
It was a year and a half before he finally turned the negative of The Kid...
...over to his distributors.
It was worth the wait.
A masterpiece and a huge step forward for Chaplin.
Early in the film, Chaplin keeps trying to abandon the abandoned baby.
He injected within something, such as The Kid...
...a truth, a poignancy, which was just magical.
He's been landed with this baby. He doesn't know what to do with it.
There's one brutal moment when he's sitting on the pavement...
...holding this baby, and there's a drain there. He just lifts up the drain cover.
Oh, why did he do that? ls he going to drop the baby down the drain?
They're passing thoughts that flit through his head...
...but he gets them over to the audience.
It was a very daring film in many ways. The idea of mixing slapstick comedy...
...with dramatic scenes had not been done. And many intelligent people...
...told Chaplin it could not be done...
...that one of the story elements was bound to fail.
And the performance that he created with Jackie...
...a miraculous piece of cinema acting and relationship.
Jackie Coogan was his greatest costar. The reason being...
...that Coogan was so malleable. I mean he was the perfect Chaplin actor.
He could just repeat and do exactly what Chaplin would show him to do.
Including stealing quarters from the gas meter.
The Kid was Chaplin's most directly autobiographical film.
He had been a waif on London 's streets. He had yearned for a father.
His own had abandoned him. He had been, until she went mad...
...lovingly tended by his impoverished mother.
He had known all the emotions The Kid played upon.
In the autobiography, he talks about that he was not very healthy as a little boy.
And his mother would sit at the window when he was in bed, sick...
...and she would just describe everything that went on outside and imitate it...
...and say, "And now there's this man. " And she would imitate the man.
"And there's this little boy, and there's this woman. "
And she would tell stories about what was going on outside.
He knew how every part should be played.
More than anything, he'd have liked to play every part.
Every boy, every girl, every old man, everything in the film.
Of course, he couldn't. He had to use, unwillingly use, other actors.
What he really wanted to do was to tell them...
...and show them exactly how he would do it.
He wanted them to be him playing the part.
This was absolutely fine when you had a brilliant little mimic like Jackie Coogan.
Charlie just did something and Jackie could do the exact imitation of it.
By a strange chance, I saw The Kid last night...
...and I am once again convinced it is his best work.
That intensity when there's the threat that the Kid is going to be...
...taken to an institution, I think that has to come out of his own childhood...
...his own feelings, his own memories of being taken off...
...separated from his mother and his brother and incarcerated in an institution.
And I think that that is what gives The Kid its peculiar intensity.
The scene where he becomes a madman in his effort to rescue the child.
Is there a more tragic moment in pictures than the Kid begging to go with him?
It's one of the greatest things I have ever seen...
...that kid pleading to be taken to him.
In The Kid, the big emotions are in the boy.
The little boy that's being taken away from where he should be...
...from love and affection, by the state, to do good... do good because this will be better for him.
In The Kid, they're taking this little kid to a horrible orphanage.
He was taken away from his mother...
...and put in the Lambeth Workhouse at the age of 7.
He was taken away from his mother. It's so terrible.
He and Sydney, and they were in the workhouse.
He knows what it is, that wrenching, being pulled away. Why?
Because the mother was in no fit mental state, and the father had disappeared.
And they were destitute.
Charles Chaplin Sr. had been a headliner, until he succumbed to drink.
All his life, his son abhorred alcohol.
When they really hit rock bottom, then the only recourse...
...was to go to the workhouse, which was the place for the destitute...
...of this parish.
Not much of it remains.
And what there is of it is blackened over by a hundred years of London soot.
After becoming a star, Chaplin supported his mother in a London asylum...
...and eventually brought her to America.
But he largely avoided her.
Both his parents had lost control of their lives...
... to the irrational forces he deeply feared.
Meantime, while still fulfilling his First National contract, Chaplin...
... with D. W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks...
...created United Artists.
They would now have full ownership of their films.
The plan had been hatched on the Liberty Loan Tour.
Ever the performer, Chaplin donned costume and makeup...
...for the newsreel cameramen.
Despite these affectionate poses, Chaplin and Pickford...
... were often at odds within the company.
But her husband, famously athletic Doug Fairbanks, was Chaplin's closest...
...and, obviously, most supportive friend.
Doug and Mary saw Chaplin off for London in 1921.
It was his first trip home since leaving on the Karno American Tour in 1912.
As he set sail, Chaplin had no idea...
...of what was awaiting him in his native country.
As the SS Olympic sailed eastward, a relaxed Chaplin supervised...
...a shipboard contest aimed at discovering his best imitator.
Hundreds of such contests were going on all over America at the time.
One of their winners was a 6-year-old Milton Berle.
The Olympic docked at Southampton on September 9th.
The mobs greeting him were without precedent.
It was a repeat of the Liberty Loan Tour, but now raised to flash point.
Until these mobs emerged to meet Chaplin, no one had quite imagined... movie stardom had upped the stakes in the celebrity game.
So how did that affect him? I think he always fought to keep his integrity...
...and part of his fighting things, too, was fighting himself, fighting to keep--
To keep his humanity in the face of this enormous fame he had.
Keeping your humanity. It's celebrity's most basic issue.
For the rest of his life, even when he was an old man in exile...
... Chaplin would have to contend with mass adoration...
... whenever he went out in public. It does something to a man.
Chaplin sneaked away from his hotel to visit the scenes of his childhood... he always would whenever he returned to London.
A friend, the writer Thomas Burke, once said of Chaplin that:
"He needed London as an actor needs a script. "
This pub had once been owned by his uncle.
It was here that he observed an aged retainer, Rummy Banks, a horse-holder...
...doing the toes-out walk that Chaplin would make the most famous aspect...
...of his Tramp character.
He returned, too, to the humble flats he'd once shared...
... with his mother and brother.
This was once a pickle factory...
... the stench of which he never got out of his nostrils.
The Chaplins lived hard by it in this little street.
On this trip, Chaplin was also tumultuously welcomed... Paris and Berlin, where he experienced...
...something of their decadent, aristocratic life.
He returned to America determined to put it on-screen.
Chaplin also wanted to give Edna a great role... that would help her build a career independent of him.
When A Woman of Paris came out, it had the biggest critical reception...
...practically of any silent film. The critics said it was absolutely great.
The audience just stayed away.
It was Chaplin's first failure, and this was because he wasn't in it.
It was a terrible miscalculation to have a Chaplin film without Chaplin.
I think there are probably two reasons for this.
One was certainly that he was determined to try to help Edna... give her a new career as a dramatic actress.
And, obviously, she was going to look much better if he held back...
...and was not there to--
If Charlie Chaplin was in the film, nobody would see anybody but Charlie Chaplin.
I think it was also just he wanted to try himself, to see if he could...
...make a dramatic film and not be a part of it in performance.
He does this tiny little piece. He's unbilled...
...and he's a porter. He carries a trunk.
There are actually reviews from the time where people hadn't known... was Chaplin, but they picked out this little comic moment.
Probably the film would have done immensely better...
...if Chaplin had taken his name off it.
You do feel it when certain aspects are just rejected and say:
"You are only meant to do this sort of thing. That's it. "
"We'll only see your film if you're in it.
We don't care how beautifully you composed the frame.
We don't care about the sumptuousness of the décor. "
It's detail, and then to go from that detail out.
And that is what you see in A Woman of Paris is the detail. And they always say:
"It's in the details. " That's a cliché, but it's true.
The kitchen scene at the beginning has to do with the smell of the game.
Why is this elaborate thing going on?
But you get a sense of how the people lived because of that.
Look at her bedroom, alone, or the party scenes or the woman being unraveled.
You know, it really is extraordinary. He cuts to the guy.
The cloth is being unraveled from the left of the frame to the right.
The sense of decadence, the sense of eroticism in the film is very strong.
It's purely modern. lt really is modern.
It's advanced for its time. And the thing about it is, it doesn't have the words.
They didn't have the technology for the words.
But they're like really up there. They're behaving.
Look at the moment. I get chills when I think of it.
It's a beautiful scene when the painter comes in to the party.
Balloons are flying around, and girls are dancing.
And Adolphe Menjou invites him in, and his elegance, just his form--
Has him sit down, and he lights the cigarette for the artist.
Just watch that again in terms of acting. Now, that's everything, the subtlety.
Once you concentrate on a moment like that, it's quite something.
And it's very modern. It's very natural. lt isn't overdone.
This is the film 's basic triangle:
Jean, the provincial painter who abandoned Marie...
...Pierre, the Paris decadent who is now keeping her.
Another scene in that film, which is fascinating, is when the artist... telling his mother it was just a moment of weakness.
And she comes in, and she hears them say that.
It's a shot on her back, and you can see the reaction it has on her, her body.
She doesn't move. The camera doesn't cut to a tighter shot of her or anything.
But you feel all of that, and it holds for a very long time before she turns.
Another director would not have done it that way. There's no doubt.
And it's very powerful.
Then, of course, he's telling the story with pictures.
You have that moment in the picture...
...where the artist is standing under the lamppost.
Their love has been rekindled, but the painter is weak-willed...
...dominated by a disapproving mother.
And there's a slow fade-out on him, and you know what's going to begin.
It's going to take it now to a tragic turn.
He doesn't stop there, though. It's a slow fade-out on his face...
...and he's just left glowing a little bit. And then it cuts to a series of shots...
...that are irises. Edna in bed, that's an iris. The mother.
And you just know that now everything's in place...
...and we're ready to go because the final scene is coming.
There's a calmness about it that is terrifying...
...because you know it's going to go badly.
And it's all very objective.
Putting everybody in place until you have that great moment...
...where the mother takes the gun, and she's like...
...something out of mythology in this black veil...
...and the dress and the flowing in the wind.
Jean has killed himself. His mother wants to avenge him.
But discovering Marie weeping over him makes her relent.
First you think she's going to shoot her, and she doesn't.
There's no close-up, but it's very moving.
A Woman of Paris on a big screen must have been powerful, very powerful.
The film 's great concluding irony.
Pierre is untouched by the tragedy, perhaps unknowing of it.
She and Jean 's mother devote themselves to an orphanage.
She and Pierre pass one another unseeing.
Another of Chaplin 's open-road endings, but without the cheerful Tramp.
Since 1915, the public had been encouraged toward total adoration...
...of Chaplin's image. You could see him in animated cartoons.
Or in the comic strips.
Or you could buy a Chaplin toy or game.
The Tramp was ubiquitous and inescapable.
Everywhere you turned, there he was:
The sweet, slightly befuddled little fellow.
It was the first great multimedia merchandising barrage.
Chaplin, in those days, loved his fame in quite an uncomplicated way.
Everyone who was anyone visited Chaplin at his studio...
... when they visited Los Angeles.
He was always on. The camera was always present.
If he loved playing the Tramp...
...he loved at least as much his role as a world-class celebrity.
Thomas Burke again, "He lives only in a role, and he is lost without it. "
But he was also the great god Pan, a famous or notorious womanizer.
I think falling in love for Chaplin probably was a great, great moment.
There are moments in his films where he sees the girl, and he sort of swoons.
I think he did it in real life, which is wonderful and romantic...
...and attractive and pretty, except that he probably does it...
...three or four times a day, and that requires an endless supply.
In his Show People cameo for King Vidor, the joke is...
... the world's most famous man is unrecognized in real life.
The unimpressed girl is Marion Davies, William Randolph Hearst's mistress...
...and one of Chaplin 's lovers as well.
She swooned. They all swooned.
Often to Chaplin's ultimate sorrow.
He had met Lita Grey when she was 12.
She'd played an angel, of sorts, for him in The Kid.
She reappeared in his life, age 15, when he was casting The Gold Rush.
The Kid's dream sequence is uncannily symbolic.
She presented herself at the studio, and Chaplin made a screen test of her...
...and then she was hired as the leading lady in The Gold Rush.
Lita had hero-worship for Chaplin...
...and Chaplin had an interest in young women.
He liked to see the young girl awaken.
As Lita would say, "He had a fetish for virgins. "
They married in November, 1924. She was pregnant with their first child...
... when Chaplin took his company on location to Truckee, California.
By then, he knew the pregnant Lita would have to be replaced.
Their baby was born in May, 1925.
Chaplin knew what he has to show the audience.
When he's making films in the environment which is known to us...
...from everyday life, you know, he doesn't need to show you much.
But then in The Gold Rush, you know, who ever traveled to Alaska...
...and the Klondike and saw all this and like that?
So he knew, "I have to show it. "
In Truckee, Chaplin made the most spectacular sequence of his career.
It involved 600 extras.
Curiously, the man famous for his obsessive retakes...
...did the entire piece in a single day.
But Truckee was a brutal and uncontrollable location.
Chaplin would have to match his location footage to studio-made footage.
Mostly, The Gold Rush would be adored by critics and public.
But some reviewers struck a note that would resound more loudly in the future.
They said that Chaplin was old-fashioned...
...not keeping up with advances in film technique.
But the Tramp was unchanged, ever the optimist...
...ever the seeker after good fortune...
...and ever oblivious, at least at first...
... to whatever dangers might be stalking him.
It was the same with Chaplin, a devoted cinematic purist.
That's how you know he's a legend already by The Gold Rush...
...because, of course, the Little Tramp can be...
...on the side of an icy mountain with no coat.
The hope of shooting The Gold Rush on location...
... was buried in the snows of Truckee.
Chaplin became increasingly miserable there and would expensively...
...return to Los Angeles for most of the shoot.
Even the famous chicken gag had to be reshot there.
For one take they used a double. You could obviously put a double...
...into a chicken costume. I mean, one chicken looks like another.
Not true. Apparently the double-- You could see it was a double.
It just didn't move like a chicken, like Charlie moves like a chicken.
The miners are starving.
They're so hungry that Mack Swain begins hallucinating.
Was ever there a more perfect animal imitation than Chaplin 's?
His ability silently to convey thought, even a bird's thought...
...inspired a young Richard Attenborough when he saw the film in rerelease.
He was able to convey the most extraordinary thoughts...
...and intricacy of thoughts, and debate and reaction...
...purely by physical, and not just facial...
...but physical reaction to things.
It was an experience I had never even considered... that here was somebody who could not only hold... attention absolutely, but deny me the choice of laughing or crying.
I mean, he dealt with me as this figure on the screen.
I thought it was the most magical thing I'd ever seen in my life.
And it was that occasion, no question, I want to be an actor.
If I could do what he could do in relation to an audience...
...I want to be an actor. That's how it started my love of him.
The Tramp was, as usual, the outsider, especially when it came to love.
It looked as if he would not get the girl.
Or maybe it was that the girl did not get him.
Georgia Hale had replaced Lita Grey in the film.
In real life, Chaplin naturally began having an affair with her.
The discontinuities between his Tramp character and Chaplin's own...
... vast worldly success were not much remarked.
Except by Chaplin, who once rather bitterly noted the irony...
... that he had become rich by playing the poorest of men.
Johnny Depp had to duplicate one of The Gold Rush's...
...most famous moments in his movie Benny & Joon.
Approaching the roll dance, when you see the thing it's very simple.
It's so difficult. It's so difficult. l mean, the coordination.
It's something that Chaplin just did in an instant.
He just came up with it like that.
It took me about, I don't know, a good three weeks to a month...
...of really working on it.
It's not just in this. It's in this, you know. It's all in here.
Chaplin's head and, you know, the little glances, the side glances.
The Gold Rush is the one film in which the Tramp ends up a millionaire.
Maybe it's Chaplin 's acknowledgment of his own equally astonishing rise.
Six years after the company's founding, Chaplin had finally delivered a hit...
... to his United Artists partners.
Meanwhile, Lita, seen with him here at a premiere...
...had delivered their second son, Sydney.
But the marriage was not going well.
The Circus, maybe Chaplin's most purely hilarious feature...
... was not going well either.
Its production was haunted by unimaginable problems.
It was in '28. I was 5 years old, and I went to see the film.
It must have been The Circus. I was amazed.
I laughed, and it moved me...
...even though I was a 6-year-old boy.
And then I started to imitate Chaplin.
I stole the bowler hat of my father, his trousers...
...and with the ink I put the moustache on, and I mimed Chaplin.
With this picture, self-consciousness enters Chaplin 's universe.
It's his first exploration of his own art, the art of being funny.
When he tries to be funny, he isn 't. When he doesn't try to be funny, he is.
The scene also comments on his supposed old-fashioned qualities.
The bits that don't work here in 1927, did work for him a decade earlier.
The clown in this scene is played by Henry Bergman...
... who worked with Chaplin for decades.
He represents classic, highly stylized, commedia dell'arte comic values.
Chaplin represents a more naturalistic variation.
He's going to exaggerate, of course...
...but there's also something real about him...
...something that works for the movies...
... that most seemingly realistic of all media.
And in the film, Chaplin had to play this pantomime...
...but when he saw the clown with a real arrow...
...he was frightened he could be killed.
Then he did this-- I show you what he did.
That means, "I cannot do it, because there is a worm in the apple. "
He was a master in pacing.
He knew exactly when after one gag...
...he has to top it with an even bigger gag...
...or if he suddenly has to go into total opposite.
It was never gag for the sake of the gag. It was always the gag for the sake of...
...revealing something about the character or something...
...about the story, or revealing something about the plot.
In The Circus, Chaplin's plagued by an endless array of animals...
...all irrationally bent on assaulting his dignity.
It's true that he mastered the cinematic art... well that you don't see it.
You don't see it. It just flows in the film and it goes.
It's just so natural, everything.
Chaplin 's routine with the magician 's table... one of his most masterfully orchestrated gag sequences...
... yet he would go on to top it in this very film.
The Circus, it's just a wonderful good time.
The jokes and the execution of them are so brilliant...
...and so uncluttered by anything that can date it.
Social ideas and satire...
...on the mores of the time date all the time.
This stuff is so beautifully done, and it's as fresh as could be.
Another example, say, would be the movie Singin' in the Rain.
That will be as fresh 500 years from now... it was the day it came out.
Sometimes his gags were simple little throwaway moments.
Sometimes the gags were as familiar as this nightmare of entrapment.
Though perhaps only Chaplin would have thought of this awful logic:
A barking dog threatening to awaken a sleeping lion.
Surely the Tramp's endless on-screen problems...
...reflect Chaplin's off-screen problems as he struggled to finish The Circus.
The Circus isn't even mentioned in his autobiography.
It's a miracle that that film got made, for a start...
...because everything happened. All the disasters in the world happened with it.
The whole set was completely destroyed by fire...
...and then what the fire didn't destroy, the firemen destroyed.
Then he had the most messy and disastrous and horrible divorce.
The shooting had to stop for nine months...
...because his wife divorced him. And it was such an ugly divorce...
...that he was frightened that she would, in fact, kidnap the film.
And so he had to hide the film.
Lita's 42-page divorce complaint was designed to ruin Chaplin.
It named the names of his lovers, discussed intimate sexual behavior...
...and in book form, became an underground bestseller.
The divorce was quite ugly, and she got quite a bit of money... mother, and so they had nothing really to talk about.
Therefore, Chaplin did not appear in court. He threw money at Lita.
The divorce settlement was the largest in American history to date.
Such was his popularity that most of the mud she threw ended up on her.
Chaplin nearly collapsed under the strain.
He fled to New York, where these pictures were taken...
...and suffered a nervous breakdown.
He was having an affair with his leading lady...
...the best friend of his wife.
So maybe that's why he never mentioned it as one of his favorite films.
She was Merna Kennedy. In the movie, she loves Rex...
... the tightrope walker, played by Harry Crocker.
Trying to impress her, the Tramp decides to emulate Rex.
Though I always am so much in awe of and express my admiration...
...for his sense of story arc and of how he subordinated...
...everything to story, still I realize... visceral memory and reaction are to individual chunks.
So when I think of The Circus, that sequence on the tightrope...
...with the monkey climbing on his head, that's the movie to me.
My father had an idea. He said, "l have an idea...
...of the Tramp being in a situation where he can't get out of. "
Comedy is often a situation of a nightmare.
And this was a nightmare situation of a man on a tightrope.
Everything goes wrong. He's falling off. His pants fall down.
He's got a whole lot of monkeys around him who are biting his nose.
And the idea started off by that nightmare situation.
You'd have to say this is the best banana-peel joke in human history.
Also, the last scene in the film...
...this beautiful scene with the horses, all these wonderful wagons...
...and the dust and the light, and it's extraordinary.
He shot it and shot it and shot it, and looked at the rushes... 3:00 in the morning and said, "No, it's not-- His hat isn't quite right.
We've got to do it again. "
And someone stole the wagons. They weren't there.
This whole freshman course of students...
...stole the wagons for their fire ceremony.
Chaplin rounded up the wagons and reshot.
The ending of The Circus is one of Chaplin's most beautiful.
He could be, whatever his critics might say...
...a great pictorialist when he wanted to be.
But there's a larger symbolism to this sequence.
Chaplin finished work on The Circus just three days...
...after the premiere of The Jazz Singer.
Sound was about to revolutionize the movies...
...and everyone, Chaplin included, wondered if the Tramp...
...a figure it was impossible to imagine talking...
... would survive the revolution.
He, however, was already writing his next movie.
It was City Lights, Chaplin's last fully realized, fully acknowledged masterpiece.
The Tramp's introduction, unconcernedly snoozing...
...on the establishment's statuary, was the greatest of all his movie entrances.
The film had a score and a bit of gibberish talk...
...but it was essentially a silent movie.
I've often said that it's much harder being a talking comedian...
...on the screen than a silent comedian.
The example I always gave was the difference between chess and checkers.
It's like checkers to do it silently. You can figure out the gags...
...and painstakingly write them, and then execute them...
...but as soon as you have to speak, you're plunged into a different reality...
...that's much more complex and the demands become much different.
Even so, the demands of silent comedy were not that easily satisfied...
...especially by Chaplin.
For unlike his competitors, Keaton and Lloyd, he did it all himself.
He never employed gag-writing teams to help hone his humor.
He always built up his routines on his feet... endless rehearsals like this one.
Later, in retake after retake, he would elaborate or simplify them.
In feature-length things... can't just do them alone with comedy.
So he brings in romance and sentiment.
When I saw City Lights, I realized what a deep filmmaker he was...
...because I felt that that film said more about love...
...than so many purportedly serious investigations of the subject.
Emotionally, it lives out feelings of real love.
You see what he feels for the girl...
...and to what lengths he's willing to go.
If she can't see him, she's able to feel that love...
...and she has no idea that it's some scruffy little tramp...
...that's making her life beautiful.
The production was strained, particularly in Chaplin 's relationship...
... with his inexperienced leading lady Virginia Cherrill.
As he grew, he started having to...
...construct stories. He started having to involve, also...
...his own emotional feelings with women...
...and get deeper into himself.
And I think that must have made it a lot harder for him.
It must have been a greater struggle then to construct something...
...because he tried to put another dimension into it.
And I think that's when he would have moments...
...of struggling to find ideas.
He's always thinking, "What is logical? Is the gag logical?
Is it right for it to happen?" And the stories about City Lights... he spent months trying to work out one little bit of business... make it plausible, to make it logical.
This is that bit of business.
How to make the blind girl misidentify her benefactor as a rich man.
It's the noises of a limousine door slamming, its motor purring off...
...sounds resonant of wealth, that do the trick.
This is one instance where a soundtrack would have made Chaplin's job easier.
But he and Cherrill have to convey her misunderstanding...
...and his all too clear understanding of what happened... brilliantly mimed thought.
Chaplin, whose mood at the time was erratic and angry...
...shot on this picture for over a year.
I love the toying with the sentimentality, the way he makes you feel sentimental...
...and particularly the scene where he's watching her...
...he's in love with her, and she's at the fountain.
He had me going with the sentimentality...
...and yet the moment happens when she sprays the water... his face and breaks it. I thought, "This guy's the best. "
The movie's brilliant subplot:
Henry Myers is a millionaire who 's benign when sober...
...but madly suicidal when he's drunk.
And then, of course, the guy with all the money...
...who's got all the possessions and all the money in the world...
...and is on the verge of suicide all the time...
...because his feelings are unrequited in love.
It's such an interesting exploration of all those feelings in a nonverbal way.
It's one step removed from music.
For me, it's his best picture.
The intertitle says it all. The job, as what was once called a "white wing"... up after animals on the street, is demeaning.
But it tells us Chaplin will do anything to help the girl.
And it leads to what may be one of Chaplin's greatest sight gags.
I began to be impressed with the fact that he was such a good actor as well...
...because the serious side of that movie...
...he handled with legendary brilliance.
Well, my favorite picture of all time, I guess, is City Lights.
I've seen it 40 times or more.
I think it's very funny, incredibly touching...
...and the end is just hard to....
I get choked up now even thinking about it.
When she recognizes it's him that's helped her regain her sight...
...and everything, it's murder. Beautiful picture.
The Tramp has secretly paid for the operation that restores the girl's sight.
Three days after City Lights premiered, an exhausted Chaplin...
...embarked on a world tour. As usual, the crowds were enormous.
As usual, no door was closed to him. In London, he met George Bernard Shaw.
More important to him, he met Gandhi.
As the world-wide depression deepened...
... Chaplin made the Mahatma's political and spiritual concerns his own.
Chaplin moved on to Berlin in what many have said...
... was his most enormous popular reception ever.
Yet it was tainted.
The Nazis, just two years before taking power...
...issued vicious anti-Semitic attacks against him.
Chaplin was not a Jew, but he was reluctant to say so.
He thought that would implicitly support the anti-Semites.
Immediately on his return to America...
...he met Paulette Goddard, the second of his great loves.
Even now, the grapevine is enough alive so that people say:
"He could be a difficult man to work for or be married to...
...and he often confused the two statuses. "
As he did with Goddard, planning to star her in his next picture.
A former showgirl, she was a lively, lovely companion.
Among her accomplishments, she effected a reconciliation...
...between Chaplin and his two sons.
Oh, she was absolutely adorable.
I used to sleep with her until I was about 8.
And my father said, "You can't sleep with Paulette anymore. "
I said, "Why can't we sleep with Paulette?"
Chaplin 's great recreational passion was tennis.
Here he's about to play a charity match against Groucho Marx, among others.
He played almost daily on his court at home.
It was after those matches, drinking Cokes, sharing a snack...
... that his friends thought him most relaxed, reminiscent...
...and expansive, especially about politics.
Mankind, he thought, was being turned into animals...
...blindly serving the factories, the machinery...
... that were supposed to serve it.
In its most aspiring moments, Modern Times...
... was about a Marxist concept: the dehumanization...
...and the alienation of labor.
No doubt about it, Chaplin was a leftist of a devoted and radical kind.
In fact, the first time we ran the picture together...
...I was so taken with it that I about fell off the chair.
He told me later that he wondered about that...
...whether I was putting it on, and he said, "I soon discovered it was not so. "
Attention, foreman. Trouble on bench five.
Check on the nut-tighteners. Nuts coming through loose on bench five.
Attention foreman.
Charlie did not know how to notate music...
...and he didn't know how to extend musical ideas.
And they needed somebody to work with him.
The fellows who were in charge, Alfred Newman and Eddie Powell...
...knew my work from New York, and they brought me out here.
And I went to work for Charlie.
And he really had a wonderful instinct for music.
They were simple little tunes, and my job was to take them down... alter them when I thought they needed altering. And that's what I did.
We worked five days a week, sometimes six...
...and it was altogether quite wonderful, you know.
He became this sort of a surrogate father for me.
What you feel sometimes with a thing like the eating machine... see an investment in a prop, in a shot, in an idea.
So we have to let this really play and we have to do it.
And it's about twice too long, maybe, the eating machine.
There's nothing in film like the feeding machine.
It was just absolutely wonderful.
The man is reduced to something less than the sum of the parts, you see.
He's just an animal, which is being fed by a machine.
Few people know that table, which goes around...
...Charlie was manipulating that himself. It wasn't somebody else doing it.
He was the guy with gadgets underneath the table...
...and he would make it turn around and all that sort of stuff.
The man was simply incredible.
And he also manipulated that mouth-wiper...
...that comes and hits him in the face and hurt him...
...and just made his face puff up and his mouth puff up. He was amazing.
Sometimes you feel something akin to pretension... the agenda of Modern Times, and it's a little off-- It's distancing.
At the same time, when I watch Modern Times, I'll sit there...
...and feel slightly superior, which with a great master...
...part of you is urging, "How can I get a leg-up on this guy...
...and feel at least even with him?"
But then there'll be a sequence and you'll think:
"That was so smart and so efficient. "
Nothing was smarter or more efficient than this sequence.
The ever-helpful Tramp picks up a red flag...
...and before he knows it, he's innocently leading a Communist demonstration.
There's something prescient in the sequence.
Within a decade, Chaplin himself would be cruelly red-baited.
In a strange way, Modern Times is a bit of a throwback.
Because if you look at it, it's really a collection of four two-reelers.
The film was certainly not all politics, all the time.
Goddard was cast as the waif opposite the Tramp...
...and much of the comedy was as innocent as any Chaplin had ever done.
In Modern Times, it is brilliant...
...and you're following the story, and it kind of peters out.
It doesn't go anywhere. It's just a brilliant trip...
...and each skit is very funny and brilliantly executed.
And it goes along on the momentum of his genius...
...the fact that he's funny and the bits are funny.
We talked politics, we talked just about everything...
...because he had a real knowledge of these things.
He had a mind like a super attic.
We went to Musso & Frank's for lunch every day...
...five days a week. We were driven there in Charlie's car.
And we had a table...
...which was reserved for us, and we'd sing.
There was a thing called "I Want a Lassie. "
And it was a tune Charlie knew and I knew, and we'd sing to that tune.
And the people in the place would look and say, "What's that?"
And then they'd suddenly see it was Chaplin...
...and they had great prospects for their evening conversation... they listened.
I think people sometimes don't understand about the fact...
...that a man like Charlie, who was a millionaire...
...can do this poverty-stricken Tramp.
Yet he did it, and there was never anything more convincing in films...
...I think, than the way he did it. And that's a great tribute to him.
Despite the film's casual construction, some critics thought Chaplin...
... was beginning to take himself and the world too seriously.
But still, in the end, he was able for the last time in movie history...
... to find an open road into a better future.
This time with a pretty girl on his arm.
I really still love Charlie.
He was not just like a father to me, which he was in some ways...
...but I admired him very much for the constancy of his point of view.
He really had a feeling for those who lead ordinary lives...
...and are sometimes shortchanged by circumstances.
After Modern Times' release in 1936...
... Charlie and Paulette took a vacation cruise.
Charlie never saw a newsreel camera he wouldn 't play to.
What was supposed to be a short Hawaiian vacation...
... would soon stretch into a three-month tour of Asia.
Back home, people began to wonder...
...if Charlie and Paulette were actually married.
They later claimed that they were married...
... though there's no record of the nuptials, somewhere in Asia.
Still later, when their relationship began to come apart...
... they found themselves denying rumors of divorce.
For the moment, though...
... they were obviously delighted with one another's company.
And Chaplin was beginning to plan his biggest...
...and most problematic movie to date.
The Great Dictator opens on the Western Front during World War I.
It is Chaplin's first all-talking production.
In it, he would play two characters.
One of them would be a Tramp variation... innocent Jewish barber serving bravely, if ineffectually... Tomania's army.
-Breech secured! -Stand clear!
Ready! Fire!
Behind-the-scenes footage, shot by brother Sydney...
...has recently been discovered.
On The Dictator, I remember, he had a thing where he pulled the gun.
He fired this Big Bertha sort of a cannon.
And I was out there, and I let out a big, "Ha, ha, ha! "
And he said, "Cut, cut! " I thought he was gonna be sore as hell.
He was absolutely thrilled that somebody laughed at it.
Chaplin threw their famous resemblance right in Der Führer's face.
His pictures were now banned in Germany...
...but that's not what motivated his portrayal of the dictator Hynkel.
For his comic German accent, he drew on his vaudeville training.
Most comedians of his era could talk "Dutch. "
You know, I really started to see movies when I was 13...
...after the World War II.
I lived in Czechoslovakia, which was occupied by the Nazis.
Suddenly comes The Great Dictator...
...and there was a liberation, because single-handedly...
...Chaplin reduced this monster into a pathetic...
...ridiculous, venomous clown.
You can say that, you know, the Allies liberated Europe physically...
...but The Great Dictator, Chaplin, liberated us spiritually...
...and made you think also, because suddenly you realized watching:
"How is it possible that this pathetic creature...
...had such a power over good German people?"
Millions of people followed him...
...died for him, for this insane lunatic.
It's almost as if he made that film because he felt...
...that Hitler had become his rival in reaching out for everybody.
The Hitler character, he had a strong relationship... the early Tramp, who's a troublemaker, who's primitive.
And the other person, the barber, is more his human side.
It's interesting, the relationship between the two and how they get confused.
I think it was a very brave film to make.
I don't think that many people were being openly critical...
...of what was going on at the time, and he was one of the--
Maybe not the only one, but he was one of the few.
Come here, you! Attacking a storm trooper, huh?
-Grab him! -You'll hear from my lawyer.
Come on!
Why, you--
He bit my finger!
The barber and Hynkel will eventually exchange roles.
The Jewish barber pays a comic, balletic price for the accident of his birth.
His creator, asked once if he was Jewish...
...made this superb reply, "l do not have that honor. "
I love the whole film, and I think that this scene when he plays...
...with the globe...
...and it's just perfect metaphor for the sick dreams of every dictator.
Out, Caesar of Nuris, emperor of the world.
My world.
That scene was written. Every single movement was written down.
Whereas all the scenes where he does that pretend German were improvised.
l would have thought that that would be written to make it sound like German...
...but he just apparently said to the camera, "Roll. " And then went on...
...and just rambled on in this almost perfect German.
It's an idea he'd had for a long time.
Some smart guy said, "Oh, that was my idea. "
But then there's actually footage of him way back in home movies doing it.
In the home movie, he was dressed in a Grecian outfit.
It just was so perfect for Hitler.
The globe dance, I could watch it for hours and hours. Rewind, once again.
It's absolutely incredible.
Literally, I could watch it for weeks and never get bored.
I mean, just the metaphor. It's just endlessly, endlessly brilliant.
People just fall down dead over an alleged metaphor...
...but I don't find it funny or a brilliant metaphor.
Some would agree with Woody Allen. Some would not.
But at a time when 90% of America opposed war...
...and half the country was to some degree anti-Semitic...
... this admittedly preachy film was undeniably courageous.
It was Hitler who seemed to be imitating Chaplin, not Chaplin imitating Hitler.
Chaplin came first. Chaplin was famous long before Hitler was famous.
There's a little bit of Hitler in all of us. That's the whole idea...
...that Hitler is not some creature who came from outer space. He's one of us.
l think the genius of the film is that Chaplin realizes a lot of Hitler in him...
...that there's a lot of Hitler... anyone who dominates audiences and rouses the rabble.
There is no doubt in The Great Dictator that he felt he had to say...
...something about this phenomenon, this issue of fascism...
...and where the world was headed.
And when he does blatantly speak, he's the voice of a generation.
He's the voice of several generations. What is he going to say?
It's an imposing of a kind of self- importance. It's very dangerous.
I happen to like the tone of his voice. I liked being with him.
You must speak.
-I can't. -You must. It's our only hope.
You have a situation, World War II, and he speaks very clearly.
He makes statements on the world and the nature of government...
...the nature of fascism.
It does sound like preaching.
lt sounds like, "They expect me to make a comment, and I'm gonna do it. "
The people at the time said, "He's too self-important. He's got above himself. "
I don't think it was quite that. He did take life terribly seriously.
He thought a lot about things.
He would get terribly troubled by things that were going on in the world.
He was deeply distressed by the Spanish Civil War, for instance.
He genuinely felt he got an audience, he's got to say something.
It's not Hitler/Hynkel, it's not the Jewish barber.
Suddenly, Charles Chaplin's face comes through.
I'm sorry, but I don't want to be an emperor.
That's not my business.
I don't want to rule or conquer anyone.
I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white.
We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that.
We want to live by each other's happiness, not by each other's misery.
We don't want to hate and despise one another.
In this world, there's room for everyone. The good Earth is rich...
...and can provide for everyone.
Not one word has lost its significance. It's as true now as it was then.
Pacifist public opinion, critical hesitation, counted for little.
In its initial release, The Great Dictator was Chaplin 's biggest-grossing film.
In World War II, he vocally...
...controversially supported our Russian allies...
...notably, at a Carnegie Hall rally, where he followed a waffling Orson Welles.
The next speaker was Charlie. He came out, this natty figure...
...walked to the center of the stage...
...raised his hand...
...said, "Comrades! "
Well, the place came down.
He remained what he had always been, a restless, driven man.
But at 53, he began to find a measure of happiness when he met Oona o'Neill.
She was 16, the daughter of the playwright Eugene o'Neill.
A New York debutante, she was now both shyly and eagerly...
...seeking a career as an actress.
For Chaplin, it was love at first sight, the last and greatest love of his life.
Within a couple of months, she was living with him.
This screen test for an unmade film called The Girl from Leningrad... us a unique glimpse of her spirit in 1942.
Don't turn around so quick. Hey, stop. Not so quick.
But he had recently had and broken off an affair with Joan Berry...
...a very disturbed would-be actress...
... who desperately broke into his home one night.
I came home, he was very strange. He said, "Go to bed. "
I went into bed, and what had happened is, she had broken in with a gun.
He talked her out of this nonsense, and she put the gun down and left.
He said, one day, he did the greatest piece of acting he's ever done in his life.
She pulled a gun on him, and she was going to shoot him.
He acted his way out of the situation till he got that gun out of her hand.
He could not act his way out of the law's clutches.
Here, he is humiliatingly fingerprinted.
The FBI had been keeping a file on him since 1922.
For some reason, J. Edgar Hoover held an implacable hatred for him.
The FBI conspired to charge him with a Mann Act violation.
The law ludicrously forbade the transportation of women...
...across state lines for immoral purposes.
Chaplin, here shaking hands with the jury, eventually won that case.
Simultaneously, Joan Berry brought a paternity suit against him.
There were two trials and countless scandalous headlines.
Berry's lawyer had a field day.
"Lecherous hound, Cockney cad, a reptile"...
... were just some of the names he called Chaplin.
Blood tests proved Chaplin could not be the father...
...but they were inadmissible under California law.
Chaplin lost the case...
...also lost was much of America 's affection for its beloved Tramp.
You know, he supported that child. He didn't make an issue of it.
He said, "Okay. " Paid for the kid, but it was not his.
Monsieur Verdoux would deepen the nation 's alienation...
...despite this hilariously failed attempt at murder.
No, he won't--
-What are you gonna do with that? -Lasso him.
Don't be silly, you can't lasso a fish. Any fool knows that.
Oh, yes, you can.
All you have to do is to place it over his head like that.
Then you pull it tight, like this.
What's that?
A yodeler.
-Oh, that ruins everything. -Certainly does.
Too bad we couldn't find a place all to ourselves.
Certainly is.
Orson Welles proposed the idea to Chaplin.
Based on the true case of Henri Landru, a notorious French wife-murderer.
Chaplin vastly expanded it into an indictment of bourgeois society.
Making Verdoux at that moment in his life...
...when his own morality was so much in question, was great provocation.
It was the final pin that broke the camel's back.
It got him into deep trouble with all sorts of war veterans....
And everyone, I think, came down on him for making that film.
Monsieur Verdoux is a bank official who gets fired after decades of service.
To support his wife and child, he takes to marrying rich widows...
...and then killing them for their money.
It's a black comedy by a man who actually had no blackness in him.
I wonder how long he's going to keep that incinerator burning.
-It's been going for the last three days. -l know.
I haven't had a chance to put my washing out.
It's almost a mea culpa. It's a statement about capitalism.
It's a statement...
...that murder's the logical extension of business.
That when you're out to make a living, anything goes.
Verdoux expertly counting his money was a chilling...
...but well-remembered comic motif in the film.
The Lydia scene is unique, though.
I think that's the first murder you see.
And going up the stairs and him talking about the moon.
The elegance of the shot. And, oh, "Yes, my dear. "
The way he says, "Yes, my dear," is like a snake.
He's just coiling around her.
Yes, my dear.
And you know it's going to come down, he's going to kill somebody.
That extraordinary moment, going up the steps...
...and looking at the moon outside and reciting--
I forget exactly the words, but about the moon.
She says, "What are you doing?" "Oh, nothing. "
-What a night. -Yes, a full moon.
How beautiful, this pale Endymion hour.
What are you talking about?
Endymion, my dear.
A beautiful youth possessed by the moon.
Well, forget about him and get to bed.
Yes, my dear.
And then he turns into a silhouette, goes out of frame, the music rises....
Her feet were soft in flowers.
The night changes to day, and you know it's been done.
The vulgarity of his victims is often contrasted...
...perhaps misogynistically so, with Verdoux's dandyish elegance.
The next thing is followed by the comic refrain of the counting of the money.
But it takes you by surprise because what seems simple with this man... suddenly translated into something so eloquent and elegant...
...and absolutely horrendous behavior, but it's done absolutely beautifully.
A friend has told him of a poison that leaves no trace.
He decides to try it on someone...
... with whom he has no connection the police might discover.
It is one of the moral turning points in a film that took him four years to write.
And now for the experiment.
Even when he says, "Now for the experiment," with the poison...
...when it dissolved to the young woman in the street, I was shocked.
He had the ability to shock you, slap your face, then pull you back.
You went with it because you didn't want to see him kill her...
...and you knew he wouldn't do it...
...but I was shocked by him thinking that way, "An experiment. "
The first person you see is beautiful. My goodness, he's going to kill her.
-Quite a shower. -Yes, it is.
-Can I escort you anywhere? -Oh, thank you.
It's beautiful, but it's also a very ugly film in a way. It's very disturbing.
It's almost as if he was pushing the audience, particularly after World War ll.
The worst war in recorded history.
"If I play a character like this, how far could I push you and you still love me?
Will you still accept me? Am I even relevant in a world like this right now?"
The criminal is eventually caught. He will accept his fate.
But not before he broadens the indictment against him...
... to include most of humanity.
Humanity was profoundly uninterested.
Have you anything to say before sentence is passed upon you?
Oui, monsieur, I have.
However remiss the prosecutor has been in complimenting me...
...he at least admits that I have brains.
Thank you, monsieur, I have.
And for 35 years, I used them honestly.
After that, nobody wanted them.
So I was forced to go into business for myself.
As for being a mass killer, does not the world encourage it?
Is it not building weapons of destruction for the sole purpose of mass killing?
Has it not blown unsuspecting women and little children to pieces...
...and done it very scientifically?
As a mass killer, I'm an amateur by comparison.
It was a very interesting...
...disturbing touch as he walks out.
It's like, if you watch him walk, his stomach is a little extended...
...the walk is awkward, like a grotesque of the Little Tramp's walk.
It really is. They lead him to the guillotine.
It's the end of the Little Tramp, the real end.
I can only imagine what it must have received when it came out.
No one liked it.
You know, as a man gets on in years, he wants to live deeply.
A feeling of sad dignity comes upon him, and that's fatal for a comic.
Sad dignity.
It was a feeling that Chaplin knew all too well in the late '40s.
He would turn 60 in 1949.
His old genius for inventing gags...
...and developing them in sustained sequences had largely deserted him.
His audience was older too and standing on its dignity.
They were lost to him, as he had always feared they might be.
Calvero, his character in Limelight, directly...
... wearily projected his most despairing vision of himself.
What a sad business, being funny.
Very sad if they won't laugh.
But it's a thrill when they do. To look out there, see them all laughing.
To hear that roar go up, waves of laughter coming at you.
But let's talk of something more cheerful.
Besides, I want to forget the public.
Never. You love them too much.
I'm not sure. Maybe I love them, but I don't admire them.
I think you do.
As individuals, yes, there's greatness in everyone.
But as a crowd, they're like a monster without a head...
...that never knows which way it's going to turn.
It can be prodded in any direction.
Chaplin 's has-been character, depressed and drunken...
...meets the dancer Thereza when he rescues her from suicide.
She is in despair because she cannot walk.
Old man and young woman will conspire to inspire one another.
It still to me is amazing that at 20...
...I worked with the greatest genius in movies and had been chosen by him.
It was certainly he that found me.
I was a young actress. I was 19. I was in a play in London.
And then I got a wire from Harry Crocker saying...
...would I send photographs to Chaplin?
And it seemed so unbelievable to me...
...and I was so frightened by it, I did nothing.
And then about two weeks later, I got a telegram saying:
"Where are the photographs? Charles Chaplin. "
So I sent them off as quickly as I could, and, of course, from that moment on...
...I wanted to be in Limelight more than anything.
Every day was a miracle.
I woke up every morning, could not believe...
...that I was going to go and do this part.
On the other hand, I had no film technique whatsoever.
I didn't know anything. So he eased me very gradually into it... starting the scenes where I was comatose on the bed.
I got very quickly used to being filmed and being in a film.
I liked the intimacy of it compared with the theater. I still do.
His way of directing, from the beginning, was to demonstrate...
...and he would demonstrate everything.
My hand here, there, look up, say the line, how to say the line.
It was fine with me because I worshipped him...
...and I would have done anything that he wanted.
And also, when he played the young girl...
...he was more young and girlish and feminine and charming...
...than I could ever have been.
Sometimes he got very angry. It's his prerogative.
Once, very much, but I think it was deliberate.
I had this very difficult scene.
I now look at it and marvel that I could do it at that age.
I'm walking, Calvero. I'm walking.
I was terrified of it, as anybody would have been.
So he called me into his dressing room and he said:
"Claire, we'll just go over the words. I don't want any acting.
Let's go over the words. "
So I kind of went over the words with him, the scene, and he said:
"What is that supposed to be?" I said, "That's what you asked me to do. "
"No, I didn't ask you to do that. I want you to do the scene! I can't--"
Whatever it was. Of course, I started to cry...
...which is what he was waiting for. So we went out on the floor.
Everybody was ready.
They'd obviously been clued in to what was going to happen to this poor child.
And we did the scene. It was wonderful.
Now is the time to show them what you're made of.
Now is the time to fight!
Remember what you told me standing there by that window?
Remember what you said about the power of the universe...
...moving the Earth, growing the trees, and that power being within you?
Well, now is the time to use that power and to fight!
Calvero, look, I'm walking.
I'm walking!
I'm walking!
I'm walking!
He'd worked me up into that emotional pitch.
He knew what he was doing when he was angry.
I think he, at that point, was an older man...
...and had many things he wanted to say in the film about love and about death...
...and about his background in London...
...about the music hall, about something he knew well:
A young girl falling in love with an older man.
Chaplin, Oona and their growing family sailed for London...
...and Limelight's world premiere in September, 1952.
I went before he did to set up some publicity things and everything.
He was going to come later.
Then he got from the State Department the right for a re-entry permit...
...because his whole life he was English.
But the day he and Oona got on the boat, they said:
"We're not going to honor it. " Well, of course, he got to London furious.
He sent Oona back to America, and he said, "Sell everything.
Sell the house, sell the studio, everything.
We're not going back there. "
We have an idea of touring beautiful England...
...and going to all the historical spots.
Naturally, we'll go to Stratford-on-Avon and elsewhere...
...up to Scotland and Edinburgh and all that.
This is the first time that my wife has ever been abroad.
And so naturally, we're going to try and cram in as much as we can.
Grand. One other thing. Would you comment, sir...
...on this proposed ban on your re-entry into the United States?
I've already-- I can only reiterate what I said before.
I suppose-- I presume that that's already been published.
-Thank you very much. -Thank you.
As the late Calvin Coolidge said when he terminated his presidency...
...embarking to go home, waylaid by one of the pressmen who said:
"Mr. President, won't you say a few farewell words... the American people?"
He said, "Yes, goodbye. "
Eventually, Charlie and Oona would have eight kids.
The last four of them born in exile.
Probably didn't work as hard as he did in America...
...but I don't think he could be idle.
He definitely slowed down, and he'd go traveling.
He took us on trips to Africa, to the East.
The Chaplins settled in the Manoir de Ban in Switzerland, in 1953.
He would live out his life here, 24 more years.
He was never idle. He wrote scripts...
...rescored older films, wrote his autobiography.
And thumbing his nose at America, fellow-traveled with the Communists.
He even accepted a peace prize from the Soviet Union...
... then distributed the cash that came with it to the poor.
He created his own demise with America, I think, over time...
...and was quoted as saying in a very embittered way:
"The only thing I miss about America is Almond Joy bars. "
Almond Joy and Mounds candy.
Uncle Sydney, he was great. He was our funny uncle.
He was very, very eccentric, or we thought he was very eccentric.
He was married to Gypsy...
...and they lived in a caravan because Uncle Sydney never wanted a house...
...because he thought if he got in a house, he would die there.
And that depressed him. He would get very depressed about a lot of things.
And he was extremely nostalgic for the past.
And he would watch the sunset and cry.
And he would look at little babies and say "Oh, if only I were that age. "
He was really terrible.
And he and my father had a fantastic relationship...
...extraordinary relationship. The ideal relationship between brothers.
He twice interrupted his exile to make films.
A King in New York in 1957...
...and A Countess from Hong Kong in 1966.
His son Sydney worked with Sophia Loren.
Chaplin 's daughters also appeared in it.
But like A King, it was a critical and popular failure...
... which deeply depressed Chaplin.
He loved public and his kids were a great public for him.
And if we went to a restaurant, he had an even bigger public.
So in Switzerland we used to go to a restaurant, and he would always order...
...truite au bleu. It's a trout, and it's boiled live... it sort of looks at you. And we would be horrified.
And he'd pick up the plate and he'd take this trout and he'd say:
"Emma, Emma, darling. " And he'd kiss the trout on the lips, and we'd go:
"Oh, Daddy, how horrible! "
And by then, the whole restaurant would be looking.
So he was an entertaining father.
His audiences now were mainly accidental.
His most faithful camera was Oona's.
But the old man would take what he could get...
...and do the old bits from his glory days.
It was as though he was surprised at his own work and would say:
"But he's good. " He would talk about him as "him. "
"Oh, that's very good. Oh, but that's, that's very good. Oh, he's funny. "
I never met Chaplin. And only time I saw him in person was in Cannes.
When he was towards the end of his life, he was honored with a special award.
I was there. The theater was packed! Packed to the roof!
Electricity was enormous...
...because nobody saw Chaplin in person for years.
And the award is given to him... French Minister of Culture, Monsieur Duhamel, who, at this time...
...was also a very sick man who was walking with a cane.
So then suddenly the light goes out...
...spotlight on the curtain, curtain opens...
...and then they are standing there.
Theater explodes! Bravo, standing ovation, bravos... minute, two minutes, five minutes!
Chaplin was visibly so moved by this reaction...
...that he felt that he has to reward the audience somehow.
So he's looking around and suddenly he sees Monsieur Duhamel... to him with a cane.
So he grabs his cane and does few steps.
But in that moment, Monsieur Duhamel, being stripped of the cane...
...starts to St. Vitus Dance because he couldn't--
Now, Chaplin sees it, and he just-- They just...
...clasp each other like that, embrace, just to keep standing.
People in the audience who knew about Monsieur Duhamel's condition...
...were petrified. But most of the audience didn't know...
...and they thought that this is a comic number to entertain them.
And they started to applaud and laugh!
It was so surreal. It was like Chaplin's films.
As the years wore on, more and more honors were heaped on him.
The world was bent on reconciliation.
Even the United States wanted to forgive and forget...
...and remember.
That process was completed...
... when he received an honorary Academy Award in 1972.
He did come for the Academy Award, but that was only for financial reasons.
Because he's rereleased his pictures, and he came back and said:
"Oh, that's very kind of everybody. " Two days at the Beverly Hills Hotel...
...he says, "When are we going home?"
I can only say...
...thank you for the honor of inviting me here...
...and, oh, you're wonderful, sweet people. Thank you.
Chaplin had five more years to live in declining physical and mental health.
But one has to believe death held few terrors for him...
...because he'd long since imagined his triumph over it.
His artistic immortality as well as the hard, simple fact of his passing.
Both occurred in the same Limelight sequence...
... which he shared with his great rival Buster Keaton.
I think he must have known he was the greatest.
But I think he had a problem wondering if everyone else still thought so.
I remember once, he was then very old, and I came with a boyfriend of mine...
...very interested in cinema. Not so interested in Chaplin.
He preferred Buster Keaton, which was not the thing to do.
We arrived, and he spoke with my father a bit about the silent films.
And then he went on to talk about Buster Keaton, and my father just....
He got smaller and smaller and he shrunk, and he was so hurt.
It was like someone had stabbed him. And he just became very, very quiet.
He didn't say a word during dinner.
And after dinner, he was thinking and he was looking into the fire...
...and suddenly he peeped in a little voice.
He looked at my friend in the eyes and he said:
"But I was an artist. " And no one knew what he was talking about.
And then he said, "You know, I gave him work. "
It's so moving, with Buster Keaton and him together. He's in the foreground.
Your eye's on him. But he has Keaton perfectly placed.
He doesn't diminish him at all. And it goes on and on....
The two of them are going. It's like jazz musicians taking off.
It was beautiful.
It was two men who had the greatest respect for one another.
I personally was moved because I knew that Buster had seen some hard times...
...and here was Charlie, a multimillionaire...
...still with his own studio and all that. And there was Buster...
...had had all that and lost it.
David Thomson once called Chaplin:
"The looming, mad politician of the century, the demon tramp. "
A harsh judgment.
Yet there was something demonic in him, quite visibly so in this sequence.
He was still driven by his relentless ego... his helpless need to dominate his audience... indifferent, even hostile.
If you're not curious anymore, you're not anxious to know how to grow... a filmmaker or a writer, artist, or whatever, that's death.
He, I think, felt that, and I think you have the results in Limelight.
There's something brave, sublime and without precedent in movie history...
...about a man contemplating his own death on-screen.
He makes a peace with it too. He accepts the passage.
Doesn't like it, but accepts the transition of being old and dying...
...but also of him no longer having the energy of youth.
When that sheet is put over his face, with that beautiful music at the end...
...that is the final image of Chaplin's there.
I was fortunate enough to be in that scene, silent.
And Buster was there. And we're pulling back...
...and Buster is muttering to Charlie, not moving his lips:
"Good, Charlie. Stay just where you are. You're right in the center.
Hold it. Don't move. Yeah, yeah, that's it. We've made it. Yeah. "
And I thought:
"Boy, you, Norman, have been present at a moment in history. "
And it was just--
It made you embrace your whole profession, so to speak.
You say, "This is what real greatness in this profession is. "
The last years of his life, he very much withdrew into himself.
It was very hard for my mother.
She had a very hard time, really, looking after a man who'd been so vital...
...and such a strong presence, suddenly, really, vanishing away.
But he seemed to be very much at peace with himself.
He kind of slowly drifted, drifted away...
...and his death was just at the end of a very slow drifting away.
His was the face of his century.
His was the life of his century.
Through his will and energy, and yes, genius...
...he encompassed, as much as one man can...
... the joy and the anguish of his times...
... their romance, their horrors...
...and, of course, what laughter we could find in them.
He was a flawed man, a haunted man, a tormented man.
Which is to say, he was only human...
...but with this uncanny ability to reflect and refract...
...our humanity back at us.
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