The Great Dictator

The Great Dictator, starring Charlie ChaplinPaulette Goddard, Jack Oakie, Reginald Gardiner, Henry Daniell, Billy Gilbert

 The Great Dictator is possibly the most well-known of Charlie Chaplin’s films.  It was a timely satire on Nazism and fascism in general, and Adolph Hitler in particular. In it, Charlie Chaplin plays a double role:  Adenoid Hynkel, autocratic dictator of Tomania who blames the Jewish people for all of society’s ills.  And a Jewish Barber who happens to be the spitting image of Hynkel. Continue reading

The Gold Rush (1925) starring Charlie Chaplin, Georgia Hale, Mack Swain

The Gold Rush, produced & directed by Charlie Chaplin. Starring Charlie Chaplin, Georgia Hale, Mack Swain, Tom Murray

Synopsis of The Gold Rush

The Gold Rush, starring Charlie Chaplin, Georgia HaleBuy from Amazon.com The Gold Rush is one of Charlie Chaplin’s greatest films. Like all of his films starring the Little Tramp, it is a silent.  It demonstrates very well why the silent movie is an art form in its’ own right.  Modern clowns would do well to learn from a master of the art of pantomime by watching this film.  It’s Chaplin at his finest. Chaplin and his crew do an excellent job of telling the story without dialog, and it moves from funny to poignant to sad to touching and back to funny again.

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The Circus (1928) starring Charlie Chaplin, Merna Kennedy

The Circus, produced & directed by Charlie Chaplin. Starring Charlie Chaplin, Merna Kennedy, Al Garcia, Harry Crocker, Henry Bergman

Synopsis of Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus:

The Circus, produced & directed by Charlie Chaplin. Starring Charlie Chaplin, Merna Kennedy, Al Garcia, Harry Crocker, Henry BergmanBuy from Amazon.com The Circus is one of the Little Tramp’s most poignant roles, as well as one of Charlie Chaplin’s funniest silent movies — for which he won a special Oscar. It begins with the Tramp attending a small circus that comes to town.  He haphazardly bumps into a pickpocket, who hides his ill-gotten goods in the Tramp’s pocket. This soon leads to a marvelous chase, with the police chasing both the pickpocket and the Tramp.  At one point the pickpocket and the Tramp are running in parallel, and the Tramp politely tips his hat to the thief. After a chase through the hall of mirrors (which has to be seen), the Tramp accidentally runs into the circus’ center ring, where he is unintentionally hilarious. Continue reading

Limelight, starring Charlie Chaplin

Limelight (1952) starring Charlie Chaplin, Claire Bloom, Sydney Chaplin, Nigel Bruce, Buster Keaton

Limelight is a truly wonderful film; it swiftly became one of my favorites. In a nutshell, it’s the story of a once-great stage comedian (Calvero, a formerly great tramp clown, played by  Charlie Chaplin), who’s been failing in his career, and has become an alcoholic, who saves the life of  Terry, a despondent ballerina (played by  Claire Bloom) from a suicide attempt. The film is a juxtaposition of these two personalities, one who rallies & goes onward, the other who falls further. Continue reading

The Pilgrim starring Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance

The Pilgrim (1923) starring Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance

Buy from Amazon.com In  The Pilgrim, Charlie Chaplin plays his traditional  Charlie the Tramp role, as an escaped convict trying to head as far away from the prison as possible.   He quickly ditches his prison uniform, and ‘borrows’ a minister’s clothing and hat instead.   He goes to a train station, hoping to ride as far away as possible.  But before he can enter, a young couple, hoping to elope, spy him.  They want him to marry them before the girl’s father arrives.   They immediately chase after him, and Charlie, not knowing what’s going on tries to run away, only to run into a police officer.  Charlie becomes like a human ping-pong ball between the couple, the police officer, and the young woman’s father.   In this film,  wherever Charlie turns, he seems to  be running into police officers  – to good comic effect
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