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Offline metaldams

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Chaplin
« on: December 17, 2017, 08:38:31 PM »
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  •       One of these days I'd love to discuss Chaplin's films.  I can't imagine spending 35 weeks on Keystone films, though.  May have to find a way to cover them all concisely the way I did the pre team Laurel and Hardy's.  That said, I am a fan and am curious about opinions.  I'll give mine in a bit.

    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: Chaplin
    « Reply #1 on: December 17, 2017, 10:35:18 PM »
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  • Coincidentally, I’m typing this after having just watched the 1992 biopic on Chaplin.

    Chaplin was a very good filmmaker even if he wasn’t as good of a comedian as Keaton or Lloyd. He was very good at doing comedy-dramas and making his character sympathetic. Keaton and Lloyd could do this pretty well too, but Chaplin was more emotional in the way he handled it.

    Chaplin’s Keystone films can be a bit too hard to sit through in just how primitive they are, even the ones that he personally wrote and directed. In his defense, though, I think this was more a result of Keystone’s factory-style approach to filmmaking (I seem to recall hearing that they released at least 1 short a week at this time). There’s some cool stunt work and decent gags every now and then, but, much like the rest of Keystone’s output, it often feels way too formulaic.

    His Essanay output is a bit better in that he did slowly start to have a better understanding of character (notably in THE TRAMP). However, much like with Arbuckle during his early Comique days, Keystone’s comedy style seemed to rub off on him and these can be pretty crude as well.

    Most of Chaplin’s work from the Mutual days up to and including THE GREAT DICTATOR is fantastic. By this point, Chaplin had really learned about how to develop a character as well as learning how to make the audience feel bad for him. His comedy was a lot better, too; he still wasn’t as good as some of the other competition, but he had definitely become more creative in the variety of gags he could come up with, as opposed to earlier on when it generally consisted of gags involving how he had trouble keeping his balance. His features in particular benefited from his careful attention to storytelling, though even many of his shorter three-reel films such as A DOG’S LIFE often felt like well-crafted mini-features.

    Post-GREAT DICTATOR, I do think that LIMELIGHT is a great film, though you really have to appreciate his skills as a dramatic filmmaker in order to truly appreciate this, since the film is almost totally devoid of comedy outside of his duet with Buster Keaton. On the other hand, I found MONSIEUR VERDOUX and especially A KING IN NEW YORK to be pretty underwhelming both from dramatic and comedic standpoints.

    Chaplin also is known to have directed two films that he didn’t star in: A WOMAN OF PARIS and A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG. I have not seen COUNTESS, and from what I hear, I’m not missing much. A WOMAN OF PARIS, though, was actually really good, though again, you really have to be able to appreciate Chaplin’s dramatic skills in order to appreciate this movie.

    It definitely would be interesting to talk about Chaplin’s films in detail someday.

    Offline archiezappa

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    Re: Chaplin
    « Reply #2 on: December 18, 2017, 01:38:24 AM »
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  • I've seen several of his films. I really have a soft spot for "The Gold Rush." I'm talking about the original version. It's comedy, but there is a deep rooted struggle within his character that transcends the comedy. Very well done.

    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: Chaplin
    « Reply #3 on: December 18, 2017, 01:43:20 PM »
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  • I've seen several of his films. I really have a soft spot for "The Gold Rush." I'm talking about the original version. It's comedy, but there is a deep rooted struggle within his character that transcends the comedy. Very well done.

    The original version is better for the most part, though I'll give the 1942 version credit for removing the one plot point in the original that I hated: when Georgia Hale's character writes the apology note, but writes it for the other guy she was with instead of the Tramp.

    Offline archiezappa

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    Re: Chaplin
    « Reply #4 on: December 18, 2017, 06:21:23 PM »
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  • The original version is better for the most part, though I'll give the 1942 version credit for removing the one plot point in the original that I hated: when Georgia Hale's character writes the apology note, but writes it for the other guy she was with instead of the Tramp.

    Yeah, that was a bit cruel. I always think that his character never warrants the mistreatment he receives. But that's what makes his movies more like real life. He cuts to the chase, as well as the heart. That's why he's considered a genius.

    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Chaplin
    « Reply #5 on: December 18, 2017, 08:50:32 PM »
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  •       Chaplin I feel can do comedy as good as anyone when he wanted to, it's just that as his films matured, he focused on dramatic elements equally as comedy and drama more so than others.  Lloyd certainly had drama too, but not to Chaplin's extent (I'm a huge KID BROTHER fan), and Keaton had drama even less so, though it was still there.  When Chaplin was at his funniest, like the first 15 minutes of THE CIRCUS or the David and Goliath scene in THE PILGRIM, I laugh as hard at Chaplin as I do anyone.

          Basically, I say classic Chaplin starts at Mutual - though maybe to get more technical and agreeing with Walter Kerr (his book THE SILENT CLOWNS is a must), the last Essanay short POLICE, and goes up to LIMELIGHT - though I haven't seen A KING IN NEW YORK in years and never A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG.  The latter I just bought on DVD and decided to watch every Chaplin film in order until I get to it.  I've made it far the past month, my next film is CITY LIGHTS!  Keystone and Essanay were way ahead of their time but primitive compared to what came after.  Still a few classic shorts for each studio, but tons of random drop kicks, butt kicking, punches and clothelines for no apparent reason, and the editing can be way too jarring and fast. 

          As for THE GOLD RUSH, I have zero issues with the letter for the other guy being given to Chaplin, as it sets up what I consider to be genius - the standard happy ending. (Spoiler alert) Some criticize it, but if you look beneath the surface, not totally happy - or sad.  He's a millionaire, but what quality of life is he going to have with her, and only when she finds out he's a millionaire she goes to him.  Before that, she's simply the least detestable in a classless crowd and treats him badly - with too little too late hints of remorse.  So is it a happy ending?  Scenes like that letter scene set up the ending scenario, in my opinion.




    Offline metaldams

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    Re: Chaplin
    « Reply #6 on: December 18, 2017, 08:53:17 PM »
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  •      Want to add, also a big WOMAN IN PARIS fan, but some Stooge trivia.  The woman who is being unwrapped naked in that wild party - look closely at her.  It's a young Bess Flowers!

    Offline Umbrella Sam

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    Re: Chaplin
    « Reply #7 on: December 18, 2017, 10:57:34 PM »
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  •       As for THE GOLD RUSH, I have zero issues with the letter for the other guy being given to Chaplin, as it sets up what I consider to be genius - the standard happy ending. (Spoiler alert) Some criticize it, but if you look beneath the surface, not totally happy - or sad.  He's a millionaire, but what quality of life is he going to have with her, and only when she finds out he's a millionaire she goes to him.  Before that, she's simply the least detestable in a classless crowd and treats him badly - with too little too late hints of remorse.  So is it a happy ending?  Scenes like that letter scene set up the ending scenario, in my opinion.

    An interesting way of looking at it that I never really thought of. My problem is more with how suddenly she seems to backtrack earlier on and loses a sense of character progression; it’s so great to see her both stick up for the Tramp and give that guy what he had coming to him at the cabin, yet in the next scene she suddenly decides she was wrong for hitting him, despite how she clearly sympathized more for the Tramp in that earlier scene.

    To me, the best example of Chaplin’s conflicting emotional endings are whenever he does the ending where he’s walking away on his own, particularly in THE CIRCUS. It’s obviously meant to be sad, but there’s also a sense of hope in the way he walks, something that is entirely communicated without title cards, only through his movements. You get the idea that this is how things are meant to be, even if not everyone who deserves to benefit from this ends up benefiting from it (in this case, the Tramp). Also...

         Want to add, also a big WOMAN IN PARIS fan, but some Stooge trivia.  The woman who is being unwrapped naked in that wild party - look closely at her.  It's a young Bess Flowers!

    Never realized this. She seemed a lot older in this film than I would have expected.

    Offline Big Chief Apumtagribonitz

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    Re: Chaplin
    « Reply #8 on: January 08, 2018, 11:06:48 PM »
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  • Chaplin knew how to make you laugh and cry at the same time.  Not one right after the other, but those exact physical reactions at exactly the same time. That's his secret.  That's his genius.

    Offline falsealarms

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    Re: Chaplin
    « Reply #9 on: January 09, 2018, 12:37:55 PM »
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  • I've struggled with Chaplin. At the end of the day, I'm not a big fan of mixing comedy and emotion the way he does. Among silent clowns, I greatly prefer Keaton. I have a much easier time getting into his films and have a much higher batting average with them.

    Offline dukieboy

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    Re: Chaplin
    « Reply #10 on: January 20, 2018, 07:43:06 AM »
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  • Unfortunately, as time goes by, great comics of the past are more and more forgotten.
    Ask anyone under 30 about Chaplin and chances are they wont have a clue.

     


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