Category Archives: Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day Part two

[Continued from Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day: Part One]

 

The Gold Rush (1925)

The Gold Rush (1925) (Photo credit: quicheisinsane)

Having fulfilled his contract with National, Chaplin  was free to work on independent projects for United Artists, a group he formed with  Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D. W. Griffith in 1919. With the Gold Rush in 1925 he made the movie he wanted to be remembered by.

 

Through his work, Chaplin came to be known as a grueling perfectionist. His love for experimentation often meant countless retakes and it was not uncommon for him to order the rebuilding of an entire set. It also wasn’t rare for him to begin with one leading actor, realize he’d made a mistake in his casting, and start again with someone new…But the results were hard to refute. [Biography]

 

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

The Tramp working on the giant machine in the film’s most famous scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Modern times

His later films include City Lights, 1931, Modern Times, 1936 and The Great Dictator, 1940. He made a half dozen more films (most noteably Lime Light co starring Buster Keaton) but they paled  in comparison to his earlier work. No one, it seemed, was interested in Chaplin sans bowler hat and mustache.

 

Charlie Chaplin from the film The Great Dictat...

Charlie Chaplin from the film The Great Dictator (with “double cross” emblem in background and on cap). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chaplin’s personal life was always in the spot light. He was married 4 times to women decades his junior. He had numerous affairs with his leading ladies. He didn’t join the British Army in WWI (which caused a lot of controversy back home in England. –Chaplin had registered for the draft, but had not been called up. He also worked for the War effort raising money through Liberty Bonds and producing propaganda films — but it wasn’t enough to satiate the flag waving mania sweeping his home country.) He was never afraid to voice his political views and after The Great Dictator (with it’s brilliant, but preachy six-minute closing speech) he was branded a radical. In the 1950’s he was a target of the House Un-American Activities Committee who “saw him as a nonconformist and therefore a communist.” [About.com] When he tried to return to the States after a trip  abroad he was denied entry. (He went to live in Switzerland.)

 

Charlie Chaplin, Vevey, Switzerland - Project ...

Charlie Chaplin, Vevey, Switzerland – Project 1/365 (Photo credit: Airflore)

He stayed away… until 1972 when he was awarded an Honorary Academy Award. He was given a 12 minuted standing ovation at the ceremony.

 

Chaplin also composed music. He wrote the songs “Smile” and “This is My Song” along with 500 other melodies.

 

After finishing his last film A Countess from Hong Kong … he composed the music to many of his silent movies, among them The Circus,… The Kidand A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate [IMDb]

Charlie Chaplin died of a stroke on Christmas morning 1977.

 

Awards:

 

  • 1929 WON Special Academy Award “for versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing The Circus
  • 1941 Nominated for Best Actor Oscar  for his dual role in The Great Dictator.
  • 1941 Nominated for Best Writing Oscar for The Great Dictator..
  • 1948 Nominated for Best Screenplay Oscar for Monsieur Verdoux.
  • 1972 WON Special Honorary Academy Award for “the incalculable effect he  has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century”.
  • 1973 WON The Academy Award for Best Original Score for Limelight. (The film had not been released in the US until 1972).

CLICK HERE for Charlie Chaplin Part One

 

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Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day: Part ONE

“I remain just one thing, and one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.” — Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin The Tramp debuted in 1914 -- p...

Charlie Chaplin The Tramp debuted in 1914 — pre-1923 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charles Spencer Chaplin was born on this day in 1889 in London, England. Today is the 124th anniversary of his birth.

He was practically born to the stage. Both his parents were musical hall entertainers. His father, Charles Chaplin, Sr.  was a singer and actor, his mother, Hannah Chaplin — her stage name was Lily Harley — sang light opera. The marriage didn’t last long, and Chaplin, Sr. abandoned the family when Charlie was an infant. He had two half brothers. Sydney Hill Chaplin was four years older than Charlie and was born to Hannah a year before she married Chaplin, Sr. (who was not his father.) Hannah had another baby, George Wheeler Dryden in 1892, by entertainer Leo Dryden. Sydney and Charlie hardly knew this brother, however, because Leo took the boy away when he was 6 months old. George didn’t resurface until his mid thirties.

Hannah continued her stage career for a few years, but…

in a performance that would introduce her youngest boy to the world of performance, Hannah inexplicably lost her voice in the middle of a show, prompting the stage manager to push the five-year-old Chaplin, whom he’d heard sing, onto the stage to replace her…[Biography]

The audience loved little Charlie, but it was a disaster for Hannah…

Her singing voice never returned and she eventually ran out of money. For a time, Charlie and Sydney had to make a new, temporary home for themselves in London’s tough workhouses. [Ibid]

Hannah was in and out of mental institutions until 1905 when she was committed permanently. With the exception of one disastrous stint with their alcoholic father, the boys were left to fend for themselves,  and, eventually, thrown into the workhouse. Sydney was trained as a seaman, but both boys wanted to act. Charlie charmed his way into a clog dancing group called the Eight Lancashire Lads in 1897.

It was a short stint, and not a terribly profitable one, forcing the go-getter Chaplin to make ends meet anyway he could…”I (was) newsvendor, printer, toymaker, doctor’s boy, etc., but during these occupational digressions, I never lost sight of my ultimate aim to become an actor,” Chaplin later recounted. “So, between jobs I would polish my shoes, brush my clothes, put on a clean collar and make periodic calls at a theatrical agency.” [Ibid]

His first play was  Jim, a Romance of Cockayne by H.A. Saintsbury in 1903.  Although the show closed after two weeks Chaplin’s comedic performance  as the newsboy received good reviews. Real stage experience came later that year with a 2.5 year run with  Sherlock Holmes in which Chaplin played the Page-boy.

He toured with a vaudeville outfit named Casey’s Court Circus and in 1908 teamed up with the Fred Karno pantomime troupe, where Chaplin became one of its stars as The Drunk in the comedic sketch, A Night in an English Music Hall. [Ibid]

Español: Esta es una fotografia del Sr. Charle...

Español: Esta es una fotografia del Sr. Charles Spencer Chaplin tomada en Estados Unidos, durante su juventud, en un momento en el que, como se aprecia, se encontraba al natural, tal como era, sin los clasicos caracteres que usaba para protagonizar a su recordado personaje de cine mudo Charlot. Français : Charles Chaplin, acteur américain, célèbre pour son personnage Charlot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He twice came to America on tour with the Karno troupe and film producer Mack Sennett promptly signed Chaplin to a contract for a $150 a week with Keystone Pictures. Chaplin didn’t like his first film, Making a Living, and it wasn’t a hit, but he was singled out for his comic timing and presence.

He wanted to create a persona that made him stand out from the crowd of comedic actors at Keystone, so he borrowed Fatty Arbuckle’s pants, Ford Sterling’s size 14 shoes and Arbuckle’s father-in-law’s bowler to invent the Little Tramp. The Tramp made his debut in  Kid Auto Races at Venice.

Chaplin with Edna Purviance in The Immigrant (...

Chaplin with Edna Purviance in The Immigrant (1917) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Charlie yearned for more creative input in his film and finally got a chance to direct in 1914. With the caveat that Chaplin would return $1,500 to producer Sennett should the film fail, he helmed Caught in the Rain . (He did not have to return the money. )

When Keystone wouldn’t give him a raise (he wanted $1,000 a week)  he went to Essanay Film Manufacturing Company  (they gave him $1,250 a week.) He made 14 films with Essanay.

By the age of 26, Chaplin, just three years removed from his vaudeville days was a movie superstar. He’d moved over to the Mutual Company, which paid him a whopping $670,000 a year. The money made Chaplin a wealthy man, but it didn’t seem to derail his artistic drive. With Mutual, he made some of his best work, including One A.M. (1916), The Rink (1916), The Vagabond(1916), and Easy Street (1917). [Biography]

He got a million dollar deal with First National Exhibitors’ Circuit to make 8 films. (His brother Sydney was his financial manager by then, and he was instrumental in making the deal.) Two of the eight movies broke the old show business rule about not working with children and animals, and those films — The Kid and A Dog’s Life were two of Chaplin’s best.

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Click HERE for Charlie Chaplin 4.16.13 Thought of the Day: Part TWO


Fatty Arbuckle 3.24.13 Thought of the Day

“I don’t weigh a pound over one hundred and eighty and, what’s more, I never did.”–Fatty Arbuckle

Fatty (Roscoe) Arbuckle -

Fatty (Roscoe) Arbuckle – (Photo credit: Movie-Fan)

Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle was born on this day in Smith Center, Kansas, USA in 1887. Today is the 126th anniversary of his birth.

He was the youngest of nine children born to Mollie and William Goodrich Arbuckle. He was a big baby (some sources say 13 pounds, some say 16 pounds) too big, apparently. His father thought the baby wasn’t his.

Roscoe never lost his baby fat and soon earned the nickname “Fatty.” When he was a year old the family moved to California. With his mother’s encouragement, Fatty, who had a good singing voice, started singing and doing comedy on stage when he was eight years old. He worked in vaudeville until 1899 when his mother died. At that point his father, who never accepted Fatty and would often beat the child, turned him out of the house. Fatty supported himself by doing odd jobs at a hotel. Luckily for him he soon won a talent contest and was back on stage…

performing as an acrobat, clown and singer. His first real professional engagement was in 1904, singing illustrated songs for Sid Grauman at the Unique Theater in San Jose, CA, at $17.50 a week. He later worked in the Morosco Burbank stock company and traveled through China and Japan with Ferris Hartman. His last appearance on the stage was with Hartman in Yokahama, Japan, in 1913, where he played the Mikado. [IMDB]

By 1909 he was working in films. He started at the Keystone Film Company as an extra — making a whopping $3 a day — but his star soon rose. He was featured in several Keystone Cop adventures. He also starred with Mabel Norman in a number of movie shorts called “Fatty and Mabel.” He invented the thrown-pie-in-the-face gag for his film “A Noise from the Deep“.  He started his own company, Comique, but sold his interest to friend Buster Keaton  before signing with Paramount Pictures for an unheard of $3 million for 3 years.

Arbuckle's photo on the cover of the UK based ...

Arbuckle’s photo on the cover of the UK based Pictures motion picture magazine of the July 23, 1921 issue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Arbuckle helped Buster Keaton get started in the film industry. He also mentored Charlie Chaplin and Bob Hope.

His weight plagued him all his life. He was 185 pounds when he was 12, and “It was written in his contract that his weight remain above 250 pounds and that he would be given a healthy yearly bonus if he exceeded that by 50 to 100 pounds. During his career he kept it well over 300.” [IMDB]  He also had substance abuse issues with both alcohol and morphine.

[Image courtesy: The Hairpin.com]

[Image courtesy: The Hairpin.com]

Scandal put a halt to Arbuckle’s career in 1921. He attended a three-day Labor day weekend bash held by his friend Fred Hibbard at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. There was…

“a jazz band, catered food, and ample illegal alcoholic beverages. It was by all accounts a weekend of debauchery, and the party gave Arbuckle more lasting fame than any of his films.” [NNDB]

Fatty was getting ready to leave and went into one of the bedrooms to change when he found his friend Virginia Rappe “weak, sick, and vomiting in the bathroom. He helped her onto the bed.” [Ibid]  Rappe suffered from cystitis, a condition that was aggravated when she drank heavily. It caused her so much pain that she would rip off her clothing to try to get some relief. That’s what she did at the party. As Fatty and another guest, Maude Delmont,  tried to comfort her, but she complained she couldn’t breath and began to rip off her clothes. Delmount put ice on her stomach and thighs, Fatty called hotel doctor and manager. The hotel doctor told them that Rappe was just drunk, and, with the situation under control, Fatty left the party as planned. However, “Rappe died of a ruptured bladder several days later, and as soon as Arbuckle heard of her death, he returned from Los Angeles to San Francisco. He was arrested on 11 September 1921, and tried for manslaughter.” [Ibid]

The newspapers, led by William Randolph Hearst‘s group, made this incident Hollywood’s first truly major scandal. Roscoe was tried not once but three times for the criminal charges; the trials began in November 1921 and lasted until April 1922; the first two ended with hung juries … [IMDB]

Delmont claimed that Fatty had raped Rappe, but it later came out that she tried to extort money from Arbuckle and only went to the police with the claim after he refused to pay. Rappe’s manager Al Semnacker said Fatty, who’s obesity made him impotent,  used a piece of ice to rape the actress (the object morphed into a Coca-Cola or champagne bottle in later newspaper retellings of the story.) The more lurid the story grew, the more newspapers it sold.

Matthew Brady, the San Francisco District Attorney who acted as prosecutor for the trial pressured witnesses into making false statements against Arbuckle.

At his third and final trial in April of 1922, the jury not only returned a “not guilty” verdict but excoriated the prosecution for pursuing what they said was a flimsy case with no evidence of Arbuckle having committed any crime; several jury members walked to Arbuckle after the verdict was read and hugged him and shook his hand. [IMDB]

But the damage to his career was done. Paramount cancelled his contract and the new Hayes Commission banned his movies. He sunk into alcoholism. He got some work through his friend Buster Keaton. He was able to direct under the name of “William Goodrich.” And in 1932 he appeared before the cameras again, this time in a short talkie, “Hey, Pop!” for Warner Brothers.

With the success of the shorts Warner Brothers signed Roscoe to a feature film contract, but he died in his sleep on June 29, 1933 , at age 46, the night after he signed the contract. [NNDB]

Roscoe Arbuckle

Roscoe Arbuckle (Photo credit: Luke McKernan)


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