Those of you that know me well are aware of the admiration I have for the art of silent movie icon, Charlie Chaplin. I have been watching his movies ever since I was a “kid”. A wonderful childhood memory I have was going to the local library with my father and checking out several Chaplin one-reelers to watch on 8mm at home. My father and his generation before him were fans of Chaplin’s work. I recall my father telling me how they used to show his movies at school during lunchtime. I had an uncle that used to clown around the house wearing a bowler hat similar to the Little Tramp costume. (His granddaughter gave me that hat and it is prominent in my home office).
In my opinion, Chaplin was an absolute genius on screen. He had the ability to produce, direct, write and act in many of his movies. Much has been written about his life, his body of work and philosophies. He was controversial in his personal life which may have led to his many of his film inspirations.
He truly is legendary and all of his films will live forever. Many of his full length features are still critically acclaimed invocate emotion and empathy even in current times. To watch his earlier work would put a smile on your face. The Little Tramp he created would get into trouble, get chased, and sometimes get the girl at the end of the movie. His later work such as Modern Times, The Great Dictator and Monsieur Verdoux all contained deeper messages and thoughts that he wanted to convey to his audience.
Just as amazing as each of his movies, the musical score he composed for his full length features are equally genius. It is true what they say about the power of music in movies. A perfect example is City Lights – a truly magnificent score that compliments the film.
As each year passes, a new Chaplin milestone is created. A few years ago I wrote a short post about Chaplin’s film The Pawnshop turning 100 years old. I was fascinated to realize that his movies had started to pass the 100 year mark. What prompted this posting was that I recently saw his classic film The Kid (Premiered: January 21, 1921) celebrated 100 years this year. This was a pivotal motion picture for Chaplin as it was his first full-length as a director. It starred child actor, Jackie Coogan who would be more familiar to fans of the Addams Family television series as he portrayed Uncle Fester.
Interesting to note that the last surviving cast member of The Kid is Silas Hathaway, who played the baby at the beginning of the movie. He is 101 years old and one of a handful of last surviving silent film actors.
To end with a quote from Chaplin, something that we all could use more of in our lives, especially during these trying times …
“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”