WATCH AT HOME!
Film Bitch History
Oscar History
Welcome

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

 

Powered by Squarespace
Don't Miss This!
Comment Fun

Soundtracking: Hustlers

"YES, this soundtrack was soooo good!!! The Fiona Apple 'Criminal' dance, instantly iconic." - JWB

"Does anyone remember Demi Moore in STRIPTEASE? They had her dancing to sad Annie Lennox songs. smh." - David

Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for 500... no 461 Patron SaintsIf you read us daily, please be one.  Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

Interviews

Directors of For Sama


recent
Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Wanuri Kahiu (Rafiki)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)

What'cha Looking For?
Subscribe

Entries in Charlie Chaplin (9)

Wednesday
Jun262019

Showbiz History: Chéri, Elvis, and Top Gun: Maverick?

7+ random things that happened on this day (June 26th) in history...

1925 Charlie Chaplin's classic The Gold Rush premieres at the Egyptian theatre in Hollywood. Tickets were $5.50 (which would be around $70 today)

1971 The 21st annual Berlinale begins (it used to be held in the summer rather than February). The winner will be Vittoria de Sica's Italian classic The Garden of the Finzi Continis which will win the Oscar the following April for Best Foreign Language Film...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep192018

Showbiz History: Mary Tyler Moore Debut, Charlie Chaplin Exile, Brangelina Split

10 random things that happened today, September 19th, in showbiz history

1913 Frances Farmer born in Seattle. She becomes a movie star and is eventually committed to an asylum as told in the movie Frances (1982) -- See, American Horror Story wasn't the first time Jessica Lange won awards for living in an asylum. 

1927 Happy 92nd birthday to Tony winner and Oscar nominee Rosemary Harris! We thank her for all her fine performances and for bringing another great actress, Jennifer Ehle, into the world...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec182014

The Interview Cancelled. And Other Outrages.

If you slept through the day yesterday what you missed is that Sony pulled the Christmas day release of the comedy The Interview (starring Seth Rogen & James Franco) after major theatrical chains refused to show it after mass murder threats on movie theaters showing it. Naturally the outrage machine revved up with infinite "the terrorists have won" responses (from both liberals and hard righters), snarky tweets, and lots of 'what would happen if' warnings and truly unfortunate comparisons.

Response to the removal of the movie registers strongly for future unearned martyrdom / canonization probability which is more annoying than it is terrifying. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Apr162014

Strictly 4 My L.I.N.K.A.Z.

The Wire Joe & Mark predict the Tony nominees in the play categories. Could Audra McDonald win a sixth Tony? (The nominations are only two weeks away)
Defamer Paul Walker's incomplete scenes from Fast and Furious 7 will be played by his real life brothers
AV Club a TV series on Sigmund Freud is ALSO going to be a cop show because every other television series is required to be. Gross.

Just Jared Magic Mike XXL gets a release date: July 3rd, 2015. That's only 443 days away, pervs
YouTube final X-Men Days of Future Past trailer, to spell out the plot though the notion of Professor X laughing in disbelief about time travel is unintentionally funny given the company he keeps: shapeshifters, psychics, blue skinned freaks, weather goddesses, people with laser eryes, fancy-skeletons berzerkers...
Pajiba 7 ways tv shows have covered up unexpected pregnancies from Mad Men to Sex & the City
My New Plaid Pants Yay. Picks of Jake Gyllenhaal on the set of his boxing film Southpaw 
MNPP Which is hotter? Charlie Chaplin: Führer, Tramp or Thief?

Cast This?
Variety the Tupac biopic via John Singleton is happening. Expect casting announcements soon. Wouldn't it be hilarious if Chadwick Boseman gets a third consecutive biopic? (no) WHO WOULD YOU WANT IN THE LEADING ROLE? And unknown or...

Finally...
Geek Dad has lots of fun quotes from Anthony Mackie about superheroes and Captain America: The Winter Soldier including this delightful bit on getting in shape for it...

Fitness is a lifestyle, you have to eat a certain way... So you know, me and my homeboy Jack Daniels stopped talking. You know, no more pizza. Me and my girlfriend Häagen-Dazs broke up. She’s French; it was crazy.

And then I show up and you know, Chris looks like a Greek god. And I’m feeling good about myself, I’m like Spandex-ready, you know. And I show up and he’s like, Captain Tiny Ass. And I’m like, “Dude, how’d you get your ass that small?” Like this [GESTURES AS THOUGH SQUEEZING A SMALL BOTTOM], it’s that big – you know. And I’m man size, like I can lift the whole building. And I look at his butt and I’m like, “What did you do? What did you do to it?”

If only there was video!

Thursday
Feb062014

A century of tramping

Hi all, it’s Tim, here to celebrate a milestone of particular significance in the history not just of movies, but of pop culture generally. This weekend marks a centennial of one of the most iconic figures of the modern world: silent comedian Charles Chaplin’s legendary Little Tramp, who premiered in a pair of short comedies that released 100 years ago by Keystone Studios. The second to be shot, but the first to be released, was the half-reel comic short Kid Auto Races at Venice, Cal. on February 7, 1914; two days later, it was followed by the single-reel Mabel’s Strange Predicament, during the production of which Chaplin threw together a costume on the fly made of too-large shoes, baggy pants, a tight jacket, and a bowler hat. Within months – if not, indeed, within weeks – the character thus assembled through a quick burst of inspiration had become a sensation with audiences, and by the end of 1915 would be firmly entrenched as the most internationally beloved face in movies.

The Tramp, at the time of his birth, bears very little resemblance to the figure that he’d become over the next few years as Chaplin gained more artistic autonomy and developed a clearer sense of what he wanted to do with the character. In Kid Auto Races, he’s a belligerent bystander trying to ruin someone’s newsreel footage of the race (in addition to its freewheeling violation of the fourth wall, the film is claimed to be the first time that a movie crew was shown in a movie) – you can see on the faces of the race bystanders (the film was shot guerilla-style in an afternoon) that they’re a little confused and a lot delighted by the weird little figure. In Mabel’s Strange Predicament, he’s a drunken lech in a hotel lobby trying to assault a pajama-clad 19-year-old Mabel Normand (who also directed), forcing her to hide under a bed. The Keystone slapstick comedy formula was not, after all, very sophisticated: it was built on the twin pillars of people falling down, and people getting hit in the face. In the early going, Chaplin’s gift wasn’t to subvert these tropes, but to execute them as flawlessly as possible, and the Tramp made for an easily-mocked figure whose pratfalls were played with acrobatic skill that remains fresh and wildly physical, even after a century.

Somewhere along the line, though, Chaplin began to find something fuller and richer to do with the character, and that’s the Tramp we know and love today. The put-upon everyman with an eternal sense of optimism, who no matter how often he got knocked down, was always ready to dust himself off and trudge on to the next fight. Which he’d also probably lose. He represents the best instincts of humanity found at the lowest rung of society, a pathetically admirable figure. The early Tramp is a loser that we laugh at because he’s also kind of a jerk; the late Tramp is a loser that we laugh at because he let us laugh at our own failings without criticism.

That overwhelmingly generous human spirit animates all of the late silent masterpieces: The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times. They’re funny, though not by any means the funniest of all silent comedies; but they are probably the sweetest and warmest. They are the works of an artist who could look at the world and say, “this is wrong”, but instead of being angry and depressed about that, follow with, “and here’s how we can make it better”. That has been the Tramp’s legacy: he is cinema’s finest portrait of our best selves as humans. On his one-hundredth birthday, I’m happy to remember all of the great experiences I’ve had watching his stumbles and small triumphs, and I’m pleased to think of all the films in his lengthy career that I still get to see for the first time.

Five Essential Little Tramp Films
The Floorwalker (1916, two-reel) - YouTube
The Pawnshop (1916, two-reel) - YouTube
The Immigrant (1917, two-reel) - YouTube
The Gold Rush (1925, feature)
City Lights
(1931, feature)

Five titles, of course, is barely even scratching the surface, so I'll throw it out there: what's your favorite Little Tramp movie?

Monday
Sep102012

Chaplin: The Musical 

Hey everybody. Michael C here fresh from seeing one of the legends of the cinema sing and dance his way through his life story.

At one point during Chaplin, The Musical which opens tonight on Broadway, a troop of Little Tramps march on stage to perform a chorus line version of the classic dinner roll dance from Chaplin’s The Gold Rush. It was at this point that I began to suspect that the show had not quite licked the problem of how to adapt the life and times of the silent film genius to the Great White Way.

Trying to cram anybody’s life into a coherent story structure is always going to be a daunting task. Chaplin, The Musical attempts to compensate for the familiarity of their approach with heaping helpings of Broadway razzle-dazzle. And while there is an undeniable thrill to watching performers executing in real time the kind of stunt work that Chaplin would take dozens of takes to perfect, it isn’t nearly enough to distract from the fact that we are once again being pulled through the same old biopic paces.

Two Chaplins: Robert Downey Jr in 1992, Rob McClure now

Robert Downey Jr.’s uncanny screen performance in the title role was the main selling point of Richard Attenborough’s disappointing Chaplin (1992), and the same could be said of Rob McClure’s work as Sir Charles on stage. McClure is splendidly effective when performing Chaplin-esque pantomime during Charlie’s pre-fame days and manages to convincingly evoke the enormous appeal of the Little Tramp. His recreation of that most famous of movie characters holds up even when a giant screen is produced on stage to incorporate the actor into some of Chaplin’s most famous images. Yet McClure’s efforts are never able to gather momentum as Chaplin, The Musical proceeds haphazardly from event to event, in the familiar fashion of unfocused biopics. From Chaplin's series of young gold-digging brides to the controversy over his outspoken leftist politics. From his struggle to adjust to the advent of sound to the torment of dealing with his institutionalized mother, who acts as the story’s Rosebud, the motivation behind all his choices artistic and personal. Chaplin often veers dangerously close to Walk Hard territory in moments like the one where Mack Sennett commands Chaplin to go from onscreen novice to comedic genius literally overnight or be fired.

Chaplin could have compensated for its well-worn material with some dynamic musical numbers, but unfortunately the songs by Christopher Curtis- though enjoyable enough while being performed – evaporate from memory upon reentering brightness of Times Square. It’s difficult to recall any song specific to Charlie Chaplin. Rather, we get generic showbiz material and love ballads that could be from a dozen other Hollywood stories.

costume sketches for Charlie young and old by Amy Clark

That said, it's hard to imagine a Chaplin fan isn’t going to have some fun at this show, despite all its flaws. The choreography by Warren Carlyle, fresh off his smashing work on Follies, is consistently inventive and the set decoration and costumes do a nice job evoking the black and white world of Chaplin’s films. Most important of all, the creative team succeed in expressing their deep love of the subject, even as one wishes they had endeavored to find a fresher approach. As tiresome as all the movie to stage adaptations have become I can’t help but think they would’ve had more success simply making a musical version of Modern Times or City Lights. As it stands, Chaplin, The Musical fails to conquer that central question that faces all biographies, be they musicals, movies or otherwise: Why isn’t the viewer’s time better spent experiencing the work which made the subject famous in the first place?