All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.
May 26, 2008 1:36 PM   Subscribe

Charlie Chaplin Filter.

That first link features 60 of his short films.

Here's more:
A Dog's Life (1918, 35 minutes)
The Kid (1921, 67 minutes)
A Woman of Paris (1923, 84 minutes)
The Gold Rush (1925, 71 minutes)
The Great Dictator (1940, 125 minutes)
Monsieur Verdoux (1947, 133 minutes)
City Lights (1931, 87 minutes)
His final directorial effort was A Countess From Hong Kong (1967, 120 minutes), in which he had a cameo.
Chaplin accepting his honorary Oscar on April 10, 1972, as part of his first visit to the United States in 20 years.
posted by miss lynnster (22 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
I know this is rather lengthy but this is, in my opinion, one of the greatest moments in cinematic history, courtesy of Charlie Chaplin:

"I'm sorry, but I don't want to be an emperor. That's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible - Jew, Gentile - black man - white.

We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other's happiness - not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there's room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls - has barricaded the world with hate - has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man - cries for universal brotherhood - for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world - millions of despairing men, women, and little children - victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say: 'Do not despair.' The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don't give yourselves to brutes - men who despise you and enslave you - who regiment your lives - tell you what to do - what to think and what to feel! Who drill you - diet you - treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don't hate, only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural!

Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St Luke, it is written the kingdom of God is within man not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power - the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful - to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy - let us use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world - a decent world that will give men a chance to work - that will give youth a future and old age a security.

By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world - to do away with national barriers - to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason - a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness. Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us unite!

Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up Hannah. The clouds are lifting! The sun is breaking through! We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world - a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed and their brutality. Look up, Hannah! The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow - into the light of hope, into the future, the glorious future that belongs to you, to me, and to all of us. Look up, Hannah... look up!"

It's sad that this is something that still needs to be said 68 years later.
posted by champthom at 1:43 PM on May 26, 2008 [13 favorites]

Great post. Thanks!
posted by homunculus at 1:51 PM on May 26, 2008

I've always meant to watch his films, but never got around to it before.
posted by stavrogin at 2:14 PM on May 26, 2008

From "[Edmund] Blackadder Goes Forth" (George is played by Hugh Laurie):

(in the army barracks, sound of whistling is heard... Edmund sighs)

George: You're a bit cheesed off, sir?

Edmund: George, the day this war began I was cheesed off. Within ten minutes of you turning up, I finished the cheese and moved on to the coffee and cigars. And at this late stage, I'm in a cab with two lady companions on my way to the Pink Pussycat in Lower Regency.

George: Oh well, because if you are cheesed off, you know what would cheer you up? A lot of Charlie Chaplin films. Oh, I love Old Chappers, don't you, Cap?

Edmund: Unfortunately, no I don't. I find his films about as funny as getting an arrow through the neck and discovering there's a gas bill tied to it.

George: Ah, beg pardon, sir, but come off! His films are ball-bouncingly funny.

Edmund: Rubbish!

George: Alright, why let's consult the men for a casting vote, shall we? Baldrick?

Baldrick: (entering) Sir!

George: Charlie Chaplin, Baldrick. What do you make of him?

Baldrick: Oh sir, he's as funny as a vegetable that's grown into a rude and amusing shape, sir.

Edmund: So you agree with me. Not at all funny?

George: Oh come on, skipper, it ain't fair. I haven't asked for all of this. When he kicked that fellow in the backside, I thought I'd die!

Edmund: Well, if that's your idea of comedy, we can provide our own without paying for the privilege. (kicks Baldrick) There, you find that funny?

George: Well, no of course not, sir, but you see, Chaplin is a genius.

Edmund: He certainly is a genius, George. He invented a way of getting a million dollars a year by wearing stupid trousers...

posted by Faze at 3:03 PM on May 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

One of those few great artists who inspired so many. Thanks for the post.
posted by pyrex at 3:15 PM on May 26, 2008

Lovely find, miss l!
posted by Dizzy at 3:29 PM on May 26, 2008

Awesomely good find. The Blackadder quote is proof that Richard Curtis is the tiny twisted homunculus that sits at the heart of British comedy, eating its best bits, shitting them out and serving them back to us as something new. And a quick reminder, now that his star is back in the ascendant, that sixteen years ago Robert Downey Jr made a damn fine Chaplin in Chaplin.
posted by Hogshead at 3:44 PM on May 26, 2008

How serendipitous this post is to me today! A friend and I are nearing the end of a two week Chaplin-o-thon, based on the realization that, self-titled film buffs that we are, the fact that neither of us had ever seen more than bits and snippets of his work was just not proper. (stavrogin, this means you!)

We just watched Monsieur Verdoux last night, and loved it. You can even see tiny bits of The Tramp in Verdoux, even though Chaplin retired the character some years before.

The long speech champthom quotes is from the final scene of The Great Dictator, and it is a marvelous finale to a great film. (The IMDb trivia section on this film has a lot of interesting tidbits.)

I'd also recommend seeing the 1992 film Chaplin, in which a then 27 year old Robert Downey Jr. turns in an extraordinary - and Oscar nominated - performance as Chaplin. (How he lost to Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman is a mystery to me. No knock on Pacino in general, but yelling "Hoo Haw!" should not have carried the day!)
posted by John Smallberries at 3:45 PM on May 26, 2008

Downey was robbed. He was superb in Chaplin.
posted by homunculus at 4:34 PM on May 26, 2008

Thanks for this. I've actually been thinking a lot about Chaplin lately... I have no idea why.
posted by sleepy pete at 4:42 PM on May 26, 2008

I've just spent two hours watching The Great Dictator. ♥
posted by WalterMitty at 5:24 PM on May 26, 2008

Kid Auto Races at Venice (his first appearance as the Tramp) is a pseudo-documentary well worth nine minutes out of your life, and it probably goes without saying -- but here goes -- that if you haven't seen the restored DVD issue of City Lights, get to it. Do it by yourself, and keep a few tissues handy for the last scene, which absolutely blindsided me the first time I saw it. That last scene is like Billy Jack: it tells you that it's going to kick you in the head, and then goes ahead and does it.

Great links, thanks!
posted by Kinbote at 5:26 PM on May 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

When we got married in 1993 my parents somehow managed to find Eric James who had worked with Chaplin since the '50's as a composer and pianist. I was in film school at the time and a huge Chaplin fan. The night before the wedding, as a surprise at the rehearsal dinner at our place, my dad told me to set up my 16mm projector and then brought out Eric who proceeded to tell awesome stories and play our old Heintzman piano to about an hour of Chaplin shorts. Then his wife Phyllis sang a bunch of old standards to his accompaniment.
Then they stayed for some barbeque.
It was the most awesome thing.
posted by chococat at 6:38 PM on May 26, 2008 [4 favorites]

♥ Chaplin
posted by nola at 8:23 PM on May 26, 2008

Downey was indeed superb in Chaplin, but Chaplin was even better in it. He's Exhibit 1A (right next to Babe Ruth) of people who would have made a shitload more money doing exactly what they did if only they had been born a few decades later than they were.
posted by yhbc at 8:35 PM on May 26, 2008

Anybody else watch Monsieur Verdoux? 'Cuz wow... I'd never actually heard of it before today and that was not what I expected. He sure fit a lot in that package... ya got your Chaplin, your Martha Raye, your Fred Mertz, your bigamy, your murder, your greed, your crippled wife, your cute kid, your selflessness, your comedy, your tragedy, your deep pontificating, your stock market crash, your Nazis, your riches to rags, your rags to riches, your witness stand monologue and even the (spoiler). Huh.

I'm not exactly sure what Chaplin wanted us to really learn from his character... he was seemingly forced by a tough world to be a sociopath for love and survival only to then fall on his own sword and bravely walk into the light of truth. Or something. But while Chaplin was definitely obsessed with the battle between good vs. evil in people, in my mind that guy was far more of a victimizer of innocents than innocent victim so I didn't really feel sorry for him.

Then again, it's a freakin' movie. With Martha Raye and Fred Mertz. So I should probably just stop overanalyzing it.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:41 PM on May 26, 2008

Anybody else watch Monsieur Verdoux?

No but I will now. I've always liked City Lights the most of his. It brings out the strangest feelings in me, both laughter, joy, and pain, all at once in those final moments of the film.
posted by nola at 8:50 PM on May 26, 2008

Fantastic post for Chaplin and the music of the silent era. Thanks.
posted by semmi at 9:27 PM on May 26, 2008

Glad to see Chaplin on Metafilter. Anyone interested in Chaplin should also check out Unknown Chaplin (Wikipedia | YouTube snippet), film historian Kevin Brownlow's brilliant documentary, based on a treasure trove of previously unseen material.

Among the outtakes shown in Unknown Chaplin:
this scene from Shoulder Arms, where the Tramp gets a medical examination (YouTube)

and this 9 minutes long masterpiece of a scene around a piece of wood stuck in a sewer grate, a scene which Chaplin cut out of City Lights (YouTube, embarrassingly low quality).
posted by Termite at 10:55 PM on May 26, 2008

In the early '80's toward the end of my college career I was playing guitar three nights a week at a kind of gallery/coffee house/art film place before and between films during a Charlie Chaplain film festival. I'd never seen anything but snippets before, but then I saw nearly every Chaplain film, at least almost all the feature length ones and probably most of the shorts, over the course of about 6 weeks. Ever since then I've been a huge Chaplain fan. City Lights is still in my top 5 favorite movies ever.
posted by lordrunningclam at 6:18 AM on May 27, 2008

I'd also recommend seeing the 1992 film Chaplin, in which a then 27 year old Robert Downey Jr. turns in an extraordinary - and Oscar nominated - performance as Chaplin. (How he lost to Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman is a mystery to me. No knock on Pacino in general, but yelling "Hoo Haw!" should not have carried the day!)

Funny that you link these two films. "Scene of a Woman" was made by City Light Films. And consciously references "City Lights" via use of the same music: "Por una Cabeza"

Does anyone know if "The Circus" is online? My favorite Chaplin film is "City Lights." But "The Circus," which is fun overall, has the most amazing opening scene. As does "Modern Times."

Be sure not to miss Chaplin's nearly solo performance in "One A.M."
posted by grumblebee at 9:32 AM on May 27, 2008

Here they are. Sorry I missed those.

Modern Times
The Circus
posted by miss lynnster at 9:37 AM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

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