Frame By Frame: Charlie Chaplin
UNL Film Studies professor Wheeler Winston Dixon examines the work of the iconic silent comedian Charlie Chaplin.
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- [00:00:12.947]Hi. I'm Wheeler Winston Dixon, James Ryan professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln,
- [00:00:18.137]and I'd like to talk for a few minutes about the work of Charlie Chaplin, who was one of the cinema's greatest comedians.
- [00:00:25.059]Born in England, Chaplin immigrated to the United States.
- [00:00:28.377]He was a vaudeville comedian who worked on stage,
- [00:00:31.398]but he found a home at Keystone originally, making Keystone comedies, and there he honed his craft.
- [00:00:37.386]One of his earliest films was a movie called "The Kid Auto Races at Venice,"
- [00:00:41.842]and this film had absolutely no plot at all.
- [00:00:45.546]It was basically a soapbox derby that was going on at Venice, California,
- [00:00:47.915]and Max Sennet said, "just go to the finish line and make a nuisance of yourself, and we'll just build something out of that."
- [00:00:53.954]And it's the first evocation of "the tramp" character on screen, whom he would build up over the years.
- [00:01:00.160]As time went by, Chaplin became incredibly well paid.
- [00:01:03.564]And then he went on to direct a series of feature films in his own studio.
- [00:01:08.602]He was one of the few comedians to have a combination of business sense...
- [00:01:13.274]He was also a brilliant screenwriter, director and actor.
- [00:01:16.628]And by 1925, when he made "The Gold Rush," he had complete creative control over his work.
- [00:01:21.882]He also very famously resisted the coming of sound saying:
- [00:01:25.519]"the moment that the tramp speaks, all of the mystery and magic will be gone."
- [00:01:29.423]So, he made "City Lights" in 1931 with the tramp character.
- [00:01:34.328]1936, his satire of modern industrial methods called "Modern Times"... 1936, but still essentially a silent picture,
- [00:01:42.803]with just music and sound effects.
- [00:01:44.972]It wasn't until 1940, when he made "The Great Dictator," which was his brilliant satire of Adolph Hitler,
- [00:01:51.945]that he actually spoke on the screen. He played Adenoid Hinkle, who was a parody of Adolph Hitler.
- [00:01:59.253]And he does a fantastic scene where he floats the earth as this globe... my world... this poetic dance with this huge globe. It's just an amazing film.
- [00:02:07.795]After that, his career became more problematic for many people.
- [00:02:11.932]He directed a brilliant, but very dark comedy, called "Monsieur Verdoux," about a mass murderer who kills a series of wives for money.
- [00:02:20.441]"Limelight" in 1952, was about an aging clown.
- [00:02:25.346]"A King in New York" in 1957, and then "A Countess in Hong Kong," his final feature in 1967.
- [00:02:33.150]Darkening all of this just a shade was the fact that in 1952, he was forced to leave the United States.
- [00:02:38.492]On a publicity tour of England, he was refused re-admitance by the FBI, and labeled as a communist.
- [00:02:44.538]He settled in England, and then moved to Switzerland.
- [00:02:47.735]And it was only in 1972 that he was brought back and given an Academy Award, which he so richly deserved.
- [00:02:53.907]CHAPLIN: "Oh, you're wonderful, sweet people. Thank you."
- [00:02:58.579]He was also a great composer. He wrote a lot of songs that are pop songs, for example, "Love, Here is my Song,"
- [00:03:06.153]which was a huge hit for Petula Clark.
- [00:03:07.988]And had a surprisingly rich song book.
- [00:03:10.124]So, Charlie Chaplin, a rennaisance man... one of the great comedians of all time,
- [00:03:14.161]and someone who's films you should absolutely see at the early possible convenience.
- [00:03:18.741]I'm Wheeler Winston Dixon for Frame By Frame.
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