Hearkening back to those "Good Old Days" of 1971, we can vividly recall when we were treated with a whole Season of Charles Chaplin at the Cinema. That's what the promotional guy called it when we saw him on somebody's old talk show. (We can't recall just whose it was; either MERV GRIFFIN or WOODY WOODBURY, one or the other!) The guest talked about Sir Charles' career and how his films had been out of circulation ever since the 1952 exclusion of the former "Little Tramp' from Los Estados Unidos on the grounds of his being an "undesirable Alien". (No Schultz, he's NOT from another Planet!)
CHARLIE had been deemed to be a 'subversive' due to his interest and open inquiry into various Political and Economic Systems. Everything from the Anarchist movement from the '20s (and before), the Technocracy craze to Socialism in its various forms were fair game for discussion at Chaplin's Hollywood parties; which of course meant the inclusion of the Soviet style, which we commonly call Communism.
COMPOUNDING Mr. Chaplin's predicament was both confounded by one little detail. He had never become an American Citizen.
ANYHOW, enough of this background already!
SUFFICE it to say that he had become 'Persona Non Gratis' in the United States of America. .It was high time to get the old films out of the mothballs and back out to the Movie Houses. It'd sure be a great gesture by us easily forgiving and quickly forgetting Americanos.
IT would be a fine gesture to the great film making artist; besides, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences was planning to honor Chaplin with a special tribute at the 1972 Oscar Show. This would surely be a tearful yet joyous packaging of pathos a plenty for having America invite Charlie back and have him come and receive a special Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in front of a World-wide Television Audience numbering in the Millions.
BESIDES, that would be a natural for promoting the Chaplin Season at the Theatre! (Remember, the Little Tramp was as astute as a Bu$ine$$ Man as he was as a Film Maker!) THE program consisted of showings of MODERN TIMES, CITY LIGHTS, THE GREAT DICTATOR, MONSEUR VERDOUX, A KING IN NEW YORK and finally THE CHAPLIN REVUE. We remember being very excited in the anticipation of the multi date film fest.
IN our fair city of Chicago, it was booked for the Carnegie Theatre on Rush Street. The festivities lead off with MODERN TIMES and all of the others would be shown one at a time, each staying for whatever period was necessary in order to satisfy the public's desire to view each picture. As we recall, the very last on the schedule was THE CHAPLIN REVUE.
IN RETROSPECT, we look back and wish that they had begun the run with REVUE; as there were undoubtedly legions of moviegoers (much like ourselves) who knew very little about his accomplishments in motion pictures, except for those Keystone, Essanay and Mutual Silent Shorts that were being shown as regular feature on so, so many Kiddy Shows all over the country. Oh well, once again, no one consulted me!
CONCENTRATING on today's honored guest film, THE CHAPLIN REVUE, we found that it was actually three separate pictures; carefully bound together by the use of narration by Chaplin (Himself), some lively Themes and Incidental Music (once again written by Chaplin) and some happy talk and serious narration (Ditto, by Chaplin.) He opens up the proceedings by making use of some home movie-type of film depicting the construction of the Chaplin Studio in Hollywood, as well as some film taken of some rehearsal time, showing Director Chaplin demonstrating just what he wants to a group of actors.
THIS segment was well done and well received by the audience. Both the building humor and the rehearsal were amplified by making them seem accelerated. (The rehearsal naturally, the building by use of speeding up the camera's photographic process. The old trick makes it appear that the buildings were almost building themselves.
THIS amalgam of shorts incorporated three of Chaplin's short comedies from his stint with First National Pictures.; roughly that being 1917 to 1923. The choice was well thought out and gave us a wide variety of subject matter and mood.
FIRST up was SHOULDER ARMS (Charles Chaplin Productions/First National Pictures, 1918). As the title suggests, it is a tale of World War I. Released in October of 1918 with about a month to go before the Armistice Day of November 11, it was a comedy of comical Army gags and a romance between Private Chaplin and a French Girl (Miss Edna Purviance). The levity is fast, physical and in the grand old tradition of ridiculing the Enemy, the German Army.
DISPLAYING an excellent example of the old adage about Children and Dogs bringing folks together, the next film A DOG'S LIFE (Chaplin Productions/First National, 1918) traces the parallel lives of Chaplin's Tramp and a newly adopted stray, Scraps. The movie story involves families, two of them. One Homo Sapiens, one Canine and both supplying us with some big surprises.
AS the finale, we have THE PILGRIM (Chaplin/First National, 1923) was a good choice to have as the finale. It was bright, light and tight. It was an excursion into the area of the Western Spoof, Comedies of such type having been done since by every comedian and team. The "Pilgrim" in the story is not of your standard Thanksgiving Variety; but rather a "dude" or "Tenderfoot", who has ventured out West. The Tramp is not only that guy; but his character is an escaped Convict who is mistakenly thought to be the new Clergyman of a Western town's Church!
OUR Rating (that is Schultz and Me) is ****. (That's Four Derbies)
The Chaplin Revue
Action / Comedy
The Chaplin Revue
Action / Comedy
Three Chaplin silent comedies "A Dog's Life", "Shoulder Arms", and "The Pilgrim" are strung together to form a single feature length film. Chaplin provides new music, narration, and a small amount of new connecting material. "Shoulder Arms" is now described as taking place in a time before "the atom bomb".
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February 16, 2016 at 07:41 PM