Post by solgroupie on Nov 30, 2009 10:54:42 GMT -5
i think that was pretty much a rebound marriage because it didn't last very long. it didn't hurt virginia's career to have his name attached to hers and although she did several more movies after city lights, i don't think any of them came close to matching the success of city lights.
actually, cary grant and chaplin share quite a bit in common. i read a biography on grant last year and was surprised at their similarities. i plan on writing about the women in chaplin's life, and i'll get to that when i go more in depth about cherrill.
Last Edit: Nov 30, 2009 10:55:10 GMT -5 by solgroupie
Post by solgroupie on Nov 30, 2009 13:34:54 GMT -5
city lights, part V
filming the opening scene of city lights
as the two robbers watch, the tramp once again must play counselor to the millionaire, who begins to feel desperate again. after the tramp locks up his friend's gun, one of the robbers knocks out the millionaire and chase the tramp around the room. the tramp manages to call for help on the phone before running outside to see where the criminals went. a passing policeman stops him and mistakes him for a burglar. the snooty butler, finding his boss out cold on the floor immediately blames the tramp and demands the policeman to search him. he does and finds the thousand dollars. the tramp tries to explain it was given to him, but of course no one believes him.
when the millionaire wakes up, the tramp desperately pleads for him to tell the police that he gave him the money. but again he doesn't remember the tramp once he is sober. "who is this man?" he asks. the tramp grabs the money out of the policeman's hand and makes a run for it.
the tramp knows he doesn't have much time before he is caught, so he goes straight to the blind girl's flat. though he is aware he could be apprehended at any moment, he still plays his role as the courteous gentleman caller. he gives her the money, saying, "this is for the rent. and this is for your eyes." she holds the money, incredulous. overcome, she kisses his hand and tries to give the money back to him, but he assures her it is mere spare change to his fortune and insists she keeps it.
chaplin and cherrill in city lights
he knows he must leave her and face his fate. the blind girl says, "how can i ever thank you?" the tramp again insists that there is no need for that. he knows he may never see her again, so he takes her hand and kisses it tenderly. she senses that something is wrong and asks if he is going away. "for awhile," he says. feeling panicked, she asks if he will come back. knowing that it might not be possible the tramp still tells her yes, he will come back. though she now has the rent money and money to restore her eyesight, she sobs when he leaves her.
the next day the same two newsboys are aggravating the tramp. the police capture him and take him to jail. watch how chaplin takes one last drag of his cigarette - the way he tosses it up in the air and gives it a back kick. that's skill.
during his incarceration, the blind girl's life has undergone many changes. she can now see! she also has started her own flower shop, where she and her grandmother work. you see her busily preparing arrangements and happily talking to those around her.
meanwhile, the tramp, now released from prison, shuffles to where he first met the blind girl, hoping to find her there again. he looks shabbier than ever - the same hole is in the back of his pants and he looks almost hopeless. his only hope is finding her again.
at the flower shop, a handsome, obviously rich man stops in to order some flowers. when he leaves, the grandmother asks the girl what is wrong, for she is obviously flustered. she says nothing is wrong - she had only thought perhaps her friend had returned.
virginia cherrill in city lights
the tramp has another run in with the newsboys, who are overjoyed to have him back to abuse. they begin shooting spit wads at him, but the tramp has little fight left in him. the tramp bends to pick up a stray flower in the street that reminds him of his love, and one of the newsboys grabs the shirttail that is sticking out of the hole in his pants. fed up, the tramp charges at them and chases them away.
and here it is. the ending of city lights. one of the best endings in cinema history - THE best ending, as far as i am concerned. if you have not yet seen this film, i urge you to skip the spoilers and see it for yourself.
the tramp, broke, humiliated and heart sore over losing the blind girl, turns and comes face to face with her. she, along with the other ladies at the flower shop are laughing at the spectacle he made with the newsboys. she has no idea who he is.
my favorite moment in city lights
chaplin had a definite talent with music. though he couldn't read music, he had an ear for it and knew just how to use it in his films. but he also knew when not to use it, as he did at this exact moment in city lights. when the tramp turns and sees the girl, the music stops for a few seconds. it only increases the drama of the moment - he has found her and she can obviously see now. thunderstruck, he can only stare at her.
the girl laughs at his lovestruck stare and says to her friends, "i've made a conquest!" as he stands there, the petals from the flower begin to fall on to the street. she points it out to him and takes a flower and holds it up to him, just as she did the first time he saw her. still, he is frozen and can do nothing but grin foolishly at her.
the girl takes some money to give to him, and as she comes toward him, the tramp wakes up and rushes off, afraid to reveal his true identity to her. how could she want him now?
rehearsing the final scene of city lights
the girl pursues him, wanting to help him as she was once helped by someone's kindness. though the tramp wants to hide himself from her, he cannot resist. he loves her so much he cannot leave her again, no matter what it may cost him. hesitantly, he reaches out to take the flower from her. she puts the coin in his hand and as she is no doubt telling him to use it to get something to eat (or maybe get the hole finally fixed in his pants), something stops her. she suddenly freezes and stares at him in stunned surprise. her hand travels from his to his shoulder, remembering the feel of his coat and his hand. in disbelief she asks, "you?"
obviously fearful of her reaction, the tramp nods. fear of her rejection is written all over him, but there is love there too, and joy that he has helped her and that she is now happy. he points to his eyes and asks, "you can see now?"
chaplin, at one of his finest moments onscreen
the girl, still overwhelmed, nods. "yes, i can see now." and what does she see - that a shabby tramp is responsible for what she has now. choking up with emotion, she clasps his hand to her heart. the final shot is a fade out of the tramp's expression - i could never aptly describe it. the joy, the relief. though you don't really know what happens after that - does the girl reject him still after all? chaplin eludes that she does in his autobiography, that she loves him until she sees him. but my heart won't let me believe that.
the ending of city lights - no matter how many times i have seen it, chokes me up. in an interview with sydney jr. that was in the schickel doc, he talks of the ending, tears come to his eyes and he said he had probably seen it forty times but it always has the same effect on him.
virginia cherrill in city lights
it's amazing that chaplin and cherrill could accomplish this, when their off screen relationship was not the greatest. perhaps it was because she was the first leading lady that chaplin did not have an affair with. i've often wondered if there wasn't more to their relationship than what was revealed to us. did chaplin make an advance on cherrill and she rejected him? or did she and chaplin, too preoccupied with the pressure of making city lights a success, turn her down? maybe nothing like that happened at all, but their relationship was definitely strained. in unknown chaplin, cherrill, still elegant and poised as an older woman, said she didn't think chaplin liked her. she said she liked him, but perhaps he could only see her as the blind girl.
things were so bad that chaplin fired cherrill before wrapping up city lights. on the day that they were scheduled to shoot that emotional final scene, she was late coming back from lunch. no one kept charlie chaplin waiting on his own set. not only that, but she actually asked him if she could leave early that day because she had an appointment to get her hair done.
cherrill, during her marriage to cary grant
chaplin exploded and fired her on the spot. he called georgia hale and intended to re-shoot the whole movie with her instead. but he realized that he had already spent too much money. however, he didn't get cherrill back without having to fork over more money. she explains it all here. she had marion davies's help in attaining a higher salary for her role in city lights. i, for one, am glad chaplin bit the bullet and hired cherrill back. as you can see for yourself in the unknown chaplin clip, georgia just didn't have the same quality cherrill did.
it was worth it, though chaplin had his doubts at first. city lights was previewed at a random theater and the response was not what chaplin had hoped for. the laughs were few and some left early. people told him what he wanted to hear, but always finished with, "when are you going to make a talkie?"
for the official opening of the movie, chaplin was accompanied by friends, albert einstein and georgia hale, who once again never got a mention for attending. city lights was shown in a new theater, which chaplin said was beautiful. as the film got going, the audience began to laugh more and more and chaplin's fears began to recede. unfortunately, the film was cut off midway through and a voice came over the speaker: "before continuing further with this wonderful comedy, we would like to take five minutes of your time and point out to you the merits of this beautiful new theater." chaplin went nuts. he jumped from his seat and yelled, "where is that stupid son of a bitch manager? i'll kill him!" the audience, impatient to see the rest of the film, began stamping their feet and the movie began again.
chaplin with albert einstein at the opening of city lights
for some reason, united artists really neglected promoting the film, other than a few perfunctory ads, so chaplin spent over $60,000 in newspaper ads and in a rented electric sign that was put in front of the theater. before long the line of people waiting to see city lights were so long they disrupted traffic and extra police had to be called in to keep order. it became a huge hit, his biggest one up to date, and it wasn't long before city lights grossed $400,000.
it took two years and over two million dollars to make. there were the huge gaps in production when inspiration evaded chaplin (the scene where the blind girl mistakes the tramp for a rich man took months for chaplin to develop). but he proved everyone wrong once again. it is usually a toss up for which is chaplin's most memorable and successful picture - city lights, the gold rush or perhaps modern times. i go back and forth on it myself. but no other romantic comedy can come close to city lights in my mind. it will always touch me more than any other film chaplin made.
up next: chaplin takes on modern industrialization in modern times
Last Edit: Nov 30, 2009 20:51:51 GMT -5 by solgroupie
Post by solgroupie on Dec 10, 2009 12:46:04 GMT -5
chaplin, post-city lights, pre-modern times
though chaplin could drop production of a movie to travel when he found himself lacking any sort of inspiration, he usually reserved his extended trips after wrapping up a picture, as he did with city lights. he planned on traveling to london for the premiere of city lights there, and asked a friend of his, who had seemed depressed, to come along. his name was ralph barton and was one of the editors of the new yorker.
chaplin with barton
chaplin was met across the pond with dozens of invitations to parties, dinners and outings with many of the rich and famous. he met and became friends with bernard shaw, spent time with lady astor, h.g. wells and renewed his acquaintance with sir winston churchill, whom he had met once before at a beach house that belonged to marion davies. churchill was also one of the many visitors to chaplin's studio.
chaplin with pilot amy johnson, lady astor and bernard shaw
chaplin visited churchill and his family at their home, where he learned of churchill's hobbies - painting and brick laying. after chaplin admired a wall that churchill had constructed and commented on how difficult it must have been, churchill said to him, "i can show you how to do it in five minutes."
like chaplin, churchill was an admirer of napoleon. he told chaplin that he had heard of his interest in making a film about him and encouraged it, even suggesting a comedic scene involving napoleon taking a bath.
churchill, visiting the chaplin studios
one of the highlights of chaplin's trip was meeting the mahatma ghandi. chaplin admired his convictions and iron will and was nervous of meeting such a figure. while having dinner with churchill and several members of parliament, chaplin mentioned he was going to meet ghandi. lord bracken (brendan bracken, parliament member) said, "we've catered to this man long enough. hungers strikes or no, they should put him in jail and keep him there. unless we are firm we shall lose india."
chaplin said that jailing ghandi would be a simple solution, if it would work. "but if you imprison one ghandi, another will arise. he is a symbol of what the indian people want, and until they get what they want, they will produce one ghandi after another." churchill smiled at chaplin and replied that he would make a good labor member.
chaplin met with ghandi in a small house in the slum district off the east india dock road. there was a huge crowd of people there, including many reporters and photographers, which made chaplin nervous. he wasn't sure what to say to such a man as ghandi, but they got along very well. ghandi invited chaplin to stay and observe their prayers, which he did. during their time together, ghandi explained his opposition to modern machinery, which planted the seed of modern times in chaplin's mind.
chaplin and the mahatma ghandi
having all these lunches, dinners and teas with the rich and powerful gave chaplin the opportunity to air his political views, which were frequently more liberal than his hosts. he began to take it rather seriously, actually. i imagine being the most famous man in the world had to affect him in that way - but chaplin really did genuinely side with the lower class, always remembering his humble beginnings. while attending a meeting with local fisherman with lady astor, he began to speak, identifying himself with them, but at the same time recognizing his wealth, stating he did not blame them for not listening to the rich and wealthy when it came to the decisions they must make. their applause and acceptance was something that resonated within him, and he found himself making similar comments at every opportunity.
while in london, chaplin went with ralph barton to visit his daughter, who was a nun. from chaplin's description in his autobiography, it was an uncomfortable visit. chaplin had noticed barton's depression was not much improved during their trip. at one point barton had cut the wire of an electric clock in their hotel suite because the sound of the ticking annoyed him. chaplin thought it was odd that he simply didn't unplug it. two weeks after returning to new york, ralph barton committed suicide, shooting himself.
chaplin ruffled a few feathers on his trip. it's not every day you piss off a king. he received word that king george V had requested a "command performance" from him at the palladium. chaplin turned it down, sending a charitable check instead for a thousand dollars, calling it "about as much as i earned in my last two years on the english stage."
chaplin would eventually be knighted by queen elizabeth II in 1975 - here he is with oona after the ceremony
there was another time chaplin was at a tennis court, waiting for a friend to show up to play. he instead met a young man who claimed to be a friend of chaplin's friend. they began to talk and chaplin in his autobiography, "having a weakness for taking a sudden liking to people - especially if they are good listeners" - they discussed many topics, including the current political situation and rumors of another war. the young man said he wouldn't fight in another war, and chaplin said he didn't blame him. he said, "i have no respect for those who get us into trouble. i dislike being told whom to kill and what to die for, and all in the name of patriotism."
the pair made plans to have dinner together the next night, but it never took place. the young man turned out to be a reporter and their entire conversation was under the headline: CHARLIE CHAPLIN NO PATRIOT!
it was the beginning of a troubling time for chaplin that would only worsen over the years. but chaplin never claimed to be a patriot of any kind. in his autobiography he said that if he'd had a traditional childhood filled with family, school and happy memories, perhaps he'd feel different. he had no desire to die for a president, a prime minister or dictator. at least he was open about it - he may have voiced his liberal opinions too often to the wrong people, but he never apologized for it.
chaplin extended his trip to germany, where he received some of his largest welcoming crowds. however, he said he did not realize at the time that half of the german press was against him because of the strengthening nazi front. despite that, he said he had a wonderful time in germany.
from there he went to paris, where he met a young woman he had a lengthy affair with, may reeves. i have tried to find a picture of may, but have not been successful. she was hired to be a secretary for chaplin, to keep up with his mail on the trip. after only one morning's work, chaplin met may and quickly fell for her. he never mentions her name in his autobiography, but describes how infatuated they were with one another, yet they knew it was only a temporary affair. she had told him of a recent affair that she'd had that ended, and chaplin was dismayed to learn the man was at a party they attended. may made a weak excuse to return to the party for something (a forgotten pair of gloves, i believe) and stayed out all night. she eventually confessed she returned to her ex, which infuriated chaplin. yet, he did what he almost always did after ending a relationship - he had second thoughts and convinced her to return.
according to may - and much like georgia hale's description - chaplin could go from warm, passionate and affectionate to cold and withdrawn without notice. they took baths together every morning, what they called "playing dolphins," but when may claimed she became pregnant, chaplin's attitude instantly changed. perhaps reminded of lita, chaplin began to be cold to may (if all this is even true). she claims he convinced her to tag along on his skiing trip in switzerland with douglas fairbanks, hoping the strenuous exercise would produce a miscarriage. though this was not in reeves book, it was rumored that she also had an affair with chaplin's brother, sydney. sydney was desperately afraid chaplin would marry her and begged their entourage to "watch him" when he wasn't around.
may claims that chaplin promised to bring her to america and put her in his next film, perhaps dangling the napoleon project once again. reeves said as he was leaving for japan with syd, he promised she'd hear from him soon. but it seems they never had contact with one another again.
chaplin and fairbanks in switzerland
up next: a comedian sees the world and meets his third wife
and here it is. the ending of city lights. one of the best endings in cinema history - THE best ending, as far as i am concerned.
City Lights was voted by the AFI as the #1 romantic comedy ever (this was loooong before the "romantic comedy" took on its lame-ass, modern, Meg Ryany form), and I was really glad that they not only chose to show this scene, the chose to show the whole scene. I bet there were many people who discovered Chaplin because of that special.
It's a very important practice to wash your hands each time after going to the toilet.
chaplin, post-city lights, pre-modern times, part II
chaplin kept up with his travels, journeying to singapore with syd, and then to japan. his trip so far had not given him any direction of how to proceed with his filmaking. he knew he had to do something, but he still was resistant to give in and do a talkie. he had a fear of being old fashioned, and he had been accused of that throughout his career. chaplin said he felt a good silent film was more artistic, but he finally was able to admit that sound gave more depth and presence to the characters. as far as making the tramp talk, chaplin said, "this was unthinkable, for the first word he ever uttered would transform him into another person. besides, the matrix out of which he was born was as mute as the rags he wore."
his answer was to keep moving for the time being.
a reported 40,000 people met chaplin and sydney when they arrived in japan. kono, who was chaplin's personal chauffeur and valet, made arrangements to prepare for their arrival. kono was born to a wealthy family in hiroshima, but his rebellious spirit eventually made him run away. after a variety of jobs and interests (usually involving gambling and geishas), he ended up working for chaplin for eighteen years. chaplin evidently trusted kono completely and it was understood that if you wanted chaplin, you had to go through kono first.
chaplin with kono
kono began acting strange almost as soon as they arrived in japan. as they were driving by the emperor's palace, kono nervously asked chaplin if he would get out of the car and bow toward the palace. he said it was customary to do so, making syd instantly suspicious. sydney told chaplin that their luggage had been searched and some of his papers had been disturbed. chaplin blew it off, telling syd that he was overreacting.
kono told chaplin a merchant had some pornographic pictures painted on silk that he wanted chaplin to see at his house, but chaplin refused. kono suggested the man leave the prints at the hotel, but again, chaplin refused. it was then kono confessed he had been threatened for several days by some characters that evidently had issues with chaplin's visit.
according to chaplin's autobiography, while dining in a restaurant, six young men entered their private dining room. one spoke to kono in japanese and chaplin said kono looked afraid. though chaplin was unarmed, he pretended to have a gun beneath his coat and jumped up, yelling, "what's the meaning of this?" kono said the man said that chaplin insulted the man's ancestors by refusing to look at his painted pictures of pornography. chaplin, syd and kono left the restaurant immediately.
the next day, the prime minister's son invited them to the suomi wrestling matches. the PM's son was called away to an urgent phone call, where he learned his father had just been assassinated. chaplin was shocked - and rattled - he was supposed to meet with the PM the next day. not only that, but the assassination had been carried out by six men.
as it turns out, these men were part of a society called "the black dragons," and were the ones who demanded that chaplin bow to the emperor's palace. the book government by assassination by hugh byas explains that the conspirators had a plan to bring about martial law by bombing the house of representatives. and when they learned of chaplin's arrival, they planned to assassinate him as well, because since he was "a popular figure in the u.s. and the darling of the capitalist class, we believed that killing him would cause a war with america, and thus we could kill two birds with one stone." - according to one of the black dragons. they abandoned their plan when they came to the conclusion that starting a war with america would only increase america's military strength.
aside from the mysterious intrigue of the japanese underworld, chaplin still enjoyed his time in japan. he loved kabuki theater and the culture japan had to offer. he implied that other than trying to kill him, the japanese were wonderful to him.
chaplin with a kabuki actor
he returned to his home in hollywood with still no answers on what to do with the tramp. he considered retiring, selling the studio and moving to japan to live out the rest of his life. the thought of competing with the talkies depressed him.
during this time chaplin heard roosevelt's "forgotten man" speech at sam goldwyn's beach house. he said when it came to having nothing to fear but fear itself, chaplin thought it was too good to be true.
to add to chaplin's depression, he witnessed what he called a change of life happening to hollywood. most of the actors in the silent films were gone and the charm of silent movies had been replaced by "a cold and serious business." in his autobiography, chaplin said, "cameras the size of a room lumbered about the stage like juggernauts. elaborate radio equipment was installed, involving thousands of electrical wires. men, geared like warriors from mars, sat with earphones while the actors performed, with microphones hovering above them like fishing rods. it was all very complicated and depressing. how could anyone be creative with all that junk around them?"
it was at that point he answered an invitation to joe schenck's yacht, where he said he "hoped to find a pretty little ray of sunlight. and that's precisely what happened."
up next: chaplin finds some much needed happiness and inspiration with his third wife and begins modern times
Post by solgroupie on Jan 28, 2010 16:57:29 GMT -5
the first time chaplin met the lovely paulette goddard, she told him that she was preparing to invest $50,000 of her alimony from her ex-husband into a film venture. according to chaplin's autobiography, he said he nearly took her by the throat to prevent her from doing it. he eventually talked her out of it and they became friends.
chaplin with goddard
chaplin said the bond between he and paulette was loneliness. she was new to the west coast, after leaving new york and knew virtually no one. chaplin said, it was a case of robinson crusoe discovering friday for both of them. on sundays they would take long drives together, covering much of the calilfornia coastline. one of these ventures led to their discovery of a yacht for sale, a 55 foot cruiser with three state rooms. paulette was particularly interested in the boat, so chaplin began making inquiries about it. they kept going back to look at the boat until chaplin said their presence became embarrassing.
chaplin bought the boat without telling paulette and hired an ex-keystone cop as the captain. he took paulette for another sunday drive, suggesting they stop to look at the boat again, but this time paulette refused to get out of the car, saying she was too embarrassed to look at it again. chaplin finally coaxed her out of the car and she went aboard, finding it decorated with a table set with china and breakfast cooking below by chaplin's own cook. after he told her bought the boat, she said, "wait a minute," and ran about fifty yards along the dock, covering her face with her hands. she came back saying she had to do that to get over the shock.
they spent a lot of time on the yacht, relaxing with friends, but chaplin knew he had to get back to work sooner or later. he said he found his inspiration by accident when he and paulette went to a tijunana race track. paulette was asked if she would present the winner with the silver cup and say a few words in a southern accent. chaplin was surprised at how well she performed. if you've seen paulette in the great dictator, you know she has quite a voice - i found her to be a bit shrill at times. but nevertheless, it convinced chaplin of her acting ability. he said he saw paulette as being somewhat of a gamine. "this would be a wonderful quality for me to get on the screen. i could imagine us meeting in a crowded patrol wagon, the tramp and this gamine, and the tramp being very gallant and offering her his seat. this was the basis on which i could build plot and sundry gags." [my autobiography, charles chaplin]
soon after this, chaplin remembered an interview he'd had with a young reporter from new york world. hearing that chaplin was going to visit detroit, the reporter said he knew of the factory-belt system there, which turned healthy young men from local farms into nervous wrecks after a few years. modern times was born.
i imagine paulette was thrilled to learn she would be the leading lady in chaplin's next film, but was not too happy to find out that throughout most of the movie she would re required to look dirty and poor. chaplin said she almost wept when he put smudges on her face. he assured her they were beauty spots.
chaplin and paulette on the set of modern times
chaplin tells nothing more in his autobiography of the making of modern times, other than the difficulty he had in creating paulette's costume to be convincing and not detract from her beauty.
modern times opens with the shot of a large clock's face, showing us the relentless passage of time. other than the beautiful song chaplin wrote and used in modern times, which was of course, smile, i don't particularly care for the soundtrack. i find it a bit harsh and hard to take, but i suppose that was chaplin's whole point of the movie - modern times can be harsh and brash.
the first title card reads: "modern times." a story of industry, of individual enterprise - humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness.
i love the following shot - sheep, tightly packed together, being herded forward with one single black sheep in the center. the sheep melt into a scene of men, all dressed about the same, rushing to a large, depressing looking building for work. "electro steel corporation" is mammoth - filled with huge pieces of machinery. you never learn what this company does, but it is run by a man who bears a suspicious resemblance to henry ford. i didn't know until i began writing this, but al ernest garcia played the president electro steel corporation, the same man who played the eccentric drunken millionaire in city lights. he looks totally different. god bless IMDB.
chaplin and paulette, again on the set of modern times
he spends his day putting puzzles together, reading the comics out of the newspaper and taking medication brought to him by his secretary. he also tells his big, hulking, shirtless foremen to increase production, which they do. this is when you see the actual workers of the factory, including the tramp.
chaplin and tiny stanford, who worked in several chaplin films
the tramp works in an assembly line and his job is to tighten bolts as they pass on the conveyor belt. he must keep up the pace, or he will make everyone behind who works with him. his co-worker becomes quite upset with the tramp for slowing everyone down when he has an itchy nose or is trying to swat away a bee. this job demands 100% of his concentration and not one second is allowed for anything else, including explaining to his supervisor why he is behind.
a worker is sent to relieve the tramp for a short break, and you can see how this work has made the tramp a complete tool for industry. it takes him a moment to stop "air bolting" things before he can walk away - still jerking and twisting from his monotonous, repetitive job. he tries to relax for a few moments in the restroom with a cigarette, but only after a couple of puffs the president pulls a big brother on the tramp and shows up on a screen on the wall and barks at him to get back to work.
i like how chaplin uses sound in modern times. he uses it sparsely, a little more than he did in city lights, not much more. the sounds you hear are not exactly pleasant ones - it's sound of machines and angry voices. it's a relief to return to silence and music.
chaplin and al ernest garcia in modern times
the tramp scurries off to return to his shift, though he takes his sweet time in switching places with his relief worker, stretching and giving himself a quick manicure.
meanwhile, some businessmen wheel a mysterious looking machine into the president's office and present one of cinema's unforgettable props - the feeding machine.
up next: the tramp makes a dramatic departure from the electro steel corporation, which leads to better things in modern times, part II.
Post by afriendlychicken on Jan 30, 2010 19:59:15 GMT -5
Hi solgroupie. I'm a damfino, a member of the International Buster Keaton Society, and I just wanted to say keep up the good work here. The great silent comedians need to be kept alive and loved, but more importantly, seen by a new audience. Keep spreading the word.
Not that the cinema-goer is to be blamed for his poor taste - life doesn't give us all the same opportunities for developing our aesthetic perceptions. That's where the real difficulty lies. - Andrei Tarkovsky
TODAY'S HOROSCOPE: "Beware of Leos."
"Turkey is made out of three parts. White meat, dark meat and the parts I get" - Jack Benny
Post by solgroupie on Jan 30, 2010 23:44:25 GMT -5
thanks! you put the friendly in afriendlychicken. i've really enjoyed putting this together. since you are into keaton (i respect his work and the mark he made in comedy, but ultimately i prefer chaplin), you should find mj's thread that is further down in mitchell's movies that is dedicated to keaton, langdon and lloyd. mine's better - just don't tell mj i said that.
here a link to a preview to the restored keystones that will hopefully be released soon. about midway down the article on the left is a place where you can click to see a short video about the process and actually see a few clips of the ones that are ready. i'm being totally serious when i say i got goosebumps when i saw them. for years i have been trying to watch the keystones, but it is so difficult - they are completely washed out in places, much too jumpy and sometimes you can't even see the heads of the actors. it will be an unforgettable experience for me to see them restored.
Post by solgroupie on Mar 12, 2010 14:34:08 GMT -5
modern times II
we last left electro steel corporation with some men who have barged in on the manager's quiet day with a new invention called the feeding machine. society has become so enchanted with the mechanical age that mere talking to another individual the old fashioned way is no longer needed (prophecy, anyone?). one of the men opens up a portable device that plays a recording from the mechanical salesman. he does all the talking while the men stand proudly by with a curious bit of machinery. the mechanical salesman proceeds to tell the manager about the feeding machine's benefits - his employees will no longer have to stop their work for lunch, resulting in more productivity. the manager is asked to produce an employee they can use in their demonstration.
chaplin (asleep?) on the set of modern times
just as the tramp is sitting down to his small lunch, the men, along with the manager approach him and volunteer him to be a participant in the demonstration of the feeding machine.
it is one of the most famous scenes in modern times. the tramp takes a seat and is then basically reduced to an animal being fed. a set of revolving plates and bowls pass slowly in front of him - a bowl (no time for spoons) offers him hot soup, an ear of spinning corn in butter is lifted for him to gnaw on - forks stuff other food in his mouth. the tramp is amazed at such modern technology.
after each dish, an automatic napkin wipes the tramps mouth in modern times
but suddenly there are some sparks and the smooth hum of the machine begins to falter - the tramp suddenly is taking in way too many bites of food that nearly causes him to choke - the ear of corn spins in his face to the point of getting hung on his mustache. hot soup is thrown in his face. dessert is smashed in his face, and the automatic napkin beats the hell out of his face each time he tries to yell for help.
chaplin in modern times
as the men try to make repairs, some extra bolts from the feeding machine accidentally wind up on a plate, which is fed to the tramp as well. he is finally beaten by the automatic napkin to the point of knocking him out of his chair. ultimately, the manager decides the feeding machine is not practical.
chaplin was actually the one manipulating the feeding machine with a set of levers underneath. in the film charlie: the art and life of charles chaplin, an associate said that chaplin's face would be raw and swollen after so many takes during the feeding machine scene.
chaplin on the set of modern times
after lunch, the manager instructs the men to speed things up. the tramp tightens the bolts as fast as he can, but it is all he can do to keep up. he is so intent on his work that he begins to follow the bolts into the machine itself. his burly coworker holds on to one of his legs, shouting he's crazy but as he is calling for help, the tramp slips loose and then we are rewarded with probably the image most known from modern times -
the tramp becomes part of the machine. i remember my jaw dropping at this part the first time i saw modern times. it just seemed so incredible a shot - and i always think of what it was like for the audiences back then.
after tightening a few more bolts, the machine is put into reverse and the tramp is pulled out to safety. but by this time, his resistance is broken - his mind has snapped. all he can think about is tightening bolts and nothing else.
the tramp runs around the work floor, totally out of control. he sees bolts in everything and tries to tighten them all. no one can catch him and the secretary with a couple of buttons in a most unfortunate area flees in terror when the tramp sets his sight on her. after some madcap chasing, both inside and out of the factory (involving another woman with curiously placed buttons on her blouse), the tramp is eventually caught and taken away to an asylum.
the breaking point in modern times
chaplin, years later, receates a little modern times
after recovering from his nervous breakdown, the tramp leaves the hospital. he has no job and more changes in the world have taken place. the doctor told him to avoid excitement, but it seems impossible to do as a montage follows of surging industry, huge traffic jams and angry crowds. the tramp waddles down the street, seeing many businesses that have now closed.
modern times is so famous for its iconic images and scenes - what follows is what i usually think of when i think of it. the tramp is wandering around, when a red flag drops from a construction truck. only trying to be helpful, the tramp picks it up and begins waving it around madly, while yelling to get the truck driver's attention. as he is walking down the street with the flag, a large crowd turns a corner and is suddenly behind him - with signs that shout LIBERTY! and UNITE!
suddenly the police descend and arrest the tramp for being the leader of a communist group. he is taken to jail.
up next in modern times III: the tramp's life takes a turn for the better
Post by solgroupie on Mar 22, 2010 14:04:27 GMT -5
modern times, part III
after being accused of communism, something that would really happen to chaplin in the not-too-distant-future, the tramp is taken to jail. he is introduced to his cell mate, a burly guy who has a fondness for knitting, which seems to alarm the tramp.
chaplin with richard alexander in modern times
as the tramp gets used to his new home, we are introduced to paulette's role in modern times. the title card reads: the gamin. a child of the waterfront who refuses to go hungry.
one thing about paulette on screen - aside from her beauty, she possessed such energy that i'm sure appealed to chaplin. she was instantly different than chaplin's usual female leads. aside from being pretty, she was street savvy and tough, much like the tramp. she also was not totally honest. the first shot of her is furiously cutting a stalk of bananas free at the docks. clenching the knife between her teeth, she throws several of them to the hungry children who are watching from above. the children run off with their free meal as a man realizes what is going on. the gamin sees she has been found out, so she takes a bunch of bananas and flees.
paulette hauls ass in modern times
she runs and jumps over boxes and boat decks with the man chasing her. once she has a comfortable lead, she stops to eat a banana while she watches him try to catch up to her with a victorious grin on her face. immediately you get to know her spirit through this scene. there is no way you can't like her.
paulette goddard in modern times
she goes home to her "motherless sisters" and gives them bananas to eat. they run off as their father comes home, weary from trying to find work. the gamin surprises him and triumphantly produces their next meal. he knows she stole them, but it seems senseless to chastise her for feeding her family. the scene fades out as the family, obviously very poor but very happy together, devour the stolen bananas.
meanwhile, the tramp is eating his first meal in jail, along with his surly cell mate. the cell mate shows he is alpha male right off the bat by starting (and ultimately losing) a battle over a loaf of bread with the tramp. seated on the other side of the tramp is a funny looking little man - i love the close up they do of this guy - who is suspected of smuggling in some "nose powder" into the prison.
seeing that he is about to be searched, the guy quickly pours the cocaine into the salt shaker. he is taken away by detectives just about the time the tramp decides his meal needs a little salt. he adds plenty of it to his dish as well as his bread and with one bite he suddenly finds new interest in his meal.
when your day is done and you wanna run - cocaine, in modern times
i love the following scene with the tramp getting completely high off the 'nose powder' he has been eating. it helps him not only enjoy his meal more, but stand up to his cell mate.
chaplin and richard alexander in modern times
but it does more than that. as the men are marched back to their cells, the tramp innocently walks outside, high as a kite. when he realizes what he's done, he races back inside, only to find himself locked out of his cell, with no guards around. that's when we see the cocaine smuggler has taken the detectives hostage and locks them up in a cell. before he and his buddies can make a run for it, the tramp stumbles upon them and helps capture them for the police, making a friend out of the warden.
chaplin in modern times
the gamin and her sisters are back at the docks, gathering sticks for firewood, when they hear a pistol shot. the gamin races to a mob that has become out of control outside of another failed business. as the crowd disperses, one man is dead on the ground - and suddenly the gamin and her sisters are orphans.
the law comes to take the girls away in modern times - i don't know where that nun came from - she was not in the final cut of the movie
back at their shabby little flat, two men from the city instruct a policeman to take the two youngest girls away. the gamin watches them go, crying. before the policeman can return, she slips out the door while the men are going over the paperwork. when they realize she has run away, they don't seem inclined to try and find her. she will be just one more homeless girl on the streets.
life has improved, however, for the tramp. he now has his own cell and spends his time happily lounging around, chatting with policemen, reading and getting his three squares a day.
he is called to the warden's office and learns he is to be pardoned for his act of bravery and honesty. the warden gives the tramp a handshake and a letter that will help him find employment. the tramp, though grateful to be acknowledged, hesitates, telling the warden he is so happy where he is. does he really have to leave? the warden only laughs and tells the tramp to "make good."
chaplin did a funny scene waiting for the warden with mira mckinney, who played the visiting minister's wife. the minister, played by cecil reynolds, was a good friend of chaplin's, who often went fishing with him. he was a surgeon, but had a love of acting that chaplin found useful and a love of the macabre he found fascinating
up next in part IV: the tramp and the gamin meet in modern times
Post by callipygias on Mar 22, 2010 17:45:30 GMT -5
The cocaine thing still surprises me, even if it was an accident.
Also, I've liked pretty much all of Chaplin's leading ladies, but Paulette is especially awesome. Is she the only one who ever managed turn the Tramp's famous lonely-man-walking-away finale into a twosome? It seems perfect if she is. Street savvy and tough and mischievous, like the Tramp.
It's a very important practice to wash your hands each time after going to the toilet.
Post by solgroupie on Mar 22, 2010 20:09:21 GMT -5
the cocaine scene surprised me too. for some reason, i just didn't imagine it even existed back then, when of course it did.
you said what i should have said - paulette's character was like a female version of the tramp, in a way. she was mischievous and she also shared his never give up philosophy. of course he had to give her that little pep talk at the end, but that was what so beautiful to me - the tramp had found an equal, but also someone who needed him. it was nice to see paulette as a female lead that didn't faint and simper over the events around her, which showed chaplin's growth as a filmmaker. IMO, of course.
yes, paulette has the honor of being the only woman to ever accompany the tramp down a lonely, empty road at the end of one of his adventures. imagine having that on your resume!