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Charlie Chaplin, diminished? (1 Viewer)

DeeF

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Has anyone else noted that Chaplin's reputation as a great and influential movie director has been slipping in recent years?

In the 70s, when A Woman of Paris was seen at some film festivals, it was a huge event, instantly catapulted into the Top 10 movie events of the year (although 50 years old, almost no one had seen it, so it was like a new film).

Now, Chaplin movies rarely get into the Top 100 lists, and if they do, they are behind Keaton films like The General.

I love The General, and it certainly deserves its reputation, but Chaplin deserves more attention than he is getting. His silent films made during the sound era were all singular events. What happened since that time?

This is just an observation, nothing more. Feel free to enlighten me.
 

Lew Crippen

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To be honest, I’d never considered that his reputation was going downhill. Of course over time, as more films are made, a good many will drop down the list by necessity. Add to that that if the lists are not compiled by those with a sound historical background, the early directors will be at an even greater risk.

Your post did prompt me to look at the latest S&S list.


Chaplin

33 City Lights
55 Modern Times
66 The Gold Rush
157 (tied) The Great Dictator


Keaton

28 The General (co-director)
95 Sherlock Jr.
226 (tied) The Navigator
226 (tied) Steamboat Bill, Jr. ] (co-director)


I don’t know what this means, but it looks like a reasonable ranking to me.

BTW, I did not bother with the AFI list, as I consider it pretty sus.

But as I recall, the Chaplin’s were down the ranking, but the General was not even included.
 

DeeF

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Over at the AVS Forum, there was a thread about people's favorite (or best) directors. There were voluminous lists, listing everyone from Sam Fuller to Dreyer to Fincher, but I was the first one to mention Chaplin, and I was the 30th poster.

It doesn't mean anything, of course, but I was rather disheartened.

I'd rather have Chaplin on a desert island than Welles, for instance. As great as I find Citizen Kane, Welles's career was a tiny bit wasted, partly by his non-acknowledgement by the studios, and partly by his over-indulgence.

Chaplin, of course, was excoriated by Hollywood and the U.S., and had to go back to Europe.

Just wondering... Did Welles ever win a special Oscar? Chaplin did, of course, in 1972, or so.
 

Lew Crippen

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No special Oscar. He did get a lifetime achievment award from AFI and probably more meaningfully, the Director’s Guild gave him the D. W. Griffith Award.

I find AVS useful for some hardware aspects. IMO, they are considerably less sophisticated in terms of films.
 

Patrick McCart

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Chaplin's films up until The Great Dictator are about the Tramp and those who interacted with him. He never used really advanced camerawork, nor crafty editing most of the time. This this bad? Not at all... nothing mattered other than what the Tramp did. He DID make some excellent films after (Dictator, Verdoux, and Limelight are wonderful) which still rested on the dialogue and characterizations.

Keaton, on the other hand, didn't use one character for himself. He would be the stoneface, but wouldn't be the outcast the Tramp was. His comedy is great for its visual aspects as well as the content. The excellent cinematography and narrative suited The General. If you had the same sweeping narrative and camerawork for City Lights, it would dwarf the simple story.

IMO, the Main Four are just about even in terms of quality: Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, and Langdon. Each had a totally different approach to comedy and it worked well.
 

Adam_S

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you missed two Chaplin films on the S and S list Lew

Monsieur Verdoux - 157
Limelight - 226
 

Rain

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I'm drawing this quote from a book I have. It is attributed to film critic Andrew Sarris and I think it is quite eloquently put:

"The difference between Keaton and Chaplin is the difference between poise and poetry, between the aristocrat and the tramp, between adaptability and dislocation, between the function of things and the meaning of things, between eccentricity and mysticism, between man as machine and man as angel, between the girl as a convention and the girl as an ideal, between life as farce and life as fantasy."

Fortunately, I don't think either of these brilliant gentlemen are likely to be forgotten any time soon.
 

Trevor_N

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From the things that I've read [sorry I can't cite the works because it's been about 2 years ago and I was reading them in various libraries], Chaplin's reputation has definitely slipped in recent years, and it is mostly attributed to the "excessive" sentimentality in his films.

Note that this is just my recollection and observation of those books. I myself prefer a healthy combination of Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd, and Arbuckle ;). Unfortunately, I haven't seen enough of Langdon :frowning:
 

DeeF

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One striking difference between Chaplin and Keaton -- Chaplin was important enough (and I guess rich enough) to continue making his own movies his own way, including writing the scores, long after silents had vanished. Keaton basically lost his career with the advent of talkies. He became a character actor, not bad, but not great (he also apparently wrote some gags for The Marx Bros., which is odd because their comedy is so, so different from his).

Keaton's silent film masterpieces were rediscovered in the late 50s, early 60s, and he unfortunately died in 1966. Chaplin lived on until the late 70s.

Keaton was more a filmmaker; in fact, many of his gags required editing shots. Chaplin was simply funny like a vaudevillian, place the camera, and watch him work. I would say, both are great geniuses.

I wouldn't necessarily rate either of these fine talents greater, but I am surprised that Keaton retains his reputation, but Chaplin does seem to be going down. I would agree that by some estimates, he became overly sentimental (Limelight is awash in sentiment).

Though I can't reasonably value Chaplin over Keaton, or vice versa, I do think these filmmakers should be more highly rated than the other three comedians of their generation, Harold Lloyd, Harry Langdon and Fatty Arbuckle. Arbuckle lost his career another way, of course, and had he gone on to talkies, things might look different for him today.
 

Robert Crawford

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You keep saying that, but except for a couple of writers that assertion about Chaplin's reputation is still not true as I see things.





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Robert Crawford

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Lew,
That's not correct because Chaplin actually received three Oscars. One honorary award was given at the first Oscars while the other honorary award was given in the early 1970s and I remembered seeing the latter award ceremony. By the way, he also shared an Oscar for Best Score for the film "Limelight" and there's a very interesting story about that Oscar.




Crawdaddy
 

Patrick McCart

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Arbuckle lost his career another way, of course, and had he gone on to talkies, things might look different for him today.
He actually was on his way to regain a career in the early 1930s by starring in some new two-reel sound shorts. Sadly, he died of a heart attack in 1933. :frowning:

Arbuckle was extremely funny in his two-reel shorts (especially with Buster Keaton). It makes you wonder how his comedy would have looked like by the mid-1920s. Of course, the law in Hollywood had to steal his life away.
 

DeeF

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Lew,
That's not correct because Chaplin actually received three Oscars. One honorary award was given at the first Oscars while the other honorary award was given in the early 1970s and I remembered seeing the latter award ceremony. By the way, he also shared an Oscar for Best Score for the film "Limelight" and there's a very interesting story about that Oscar.
I think Lew was actually answering my question about Orson Welles.

Something else just occurred to me, oddly. Keaton was being rediscovered just about the same time as Chaplin was packed off to Europe. Interesting dichotomy there, but of course, Chaplin was originally British anyway, and Keaton was an American through and through... I wonder if the politics of the time played a hand in the revival of interest in Keaton...
 

DeeF

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Thank you, Patrick, for shortening your quote...

:)

Although it was fun to read the whole thing, once or twice.
 

DeeF

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Yes, you're right as I can now see.

Charlie Chaplin received his award in 1972 (the 1971 awards) and Orson Welles received his the year before! in 1971 (the 1970 awards).

But I don't find evidence of Chaplin winning for Best Music, or Best Song, for "Eternally" from Limelight. He wasn't nominated for these. Were you thinking of a different movie?

What is the interesting story?
 

DeeF

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Wait, I found it.


Because of that Los Angeles rule, Chaplin's 1952 movie ``Limelight'' became eligible for Oscars in 1972. The movie never played in Los Angeles in its initial limited release but was shown there when it was reissued 20 years later.

Chaplin and two co-writers won the 1972 Oscar for musical score.
So, he won this award after his actual honorary award.

That IS interesting.
 

Lew Crippen

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If so, he was still incorrect because Welles also received an Honorary Oscar in the early 1970s
1971 to be exact. I went back and looked it up in another source.

It looks as though the consensus is that critical opinion of Chaplin as a director is not being diminished over time.
 

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