Charlie Chaplin, diminished?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by DeeF, Mar 20, 2003.

  1. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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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.
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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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.
     
  3. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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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.
     
  4. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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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.
     
  5. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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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.
     
  6. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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

    Monsieur Verdoux - 157
    Limelight - 226
     
  7. Rain

    Rain Producer

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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.
     
  8. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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  9. Trevor_N

    Trevor_N Auditioning

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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 [​IMG]. Unfortunately, I haven't seen enough of Langdon [​IMG]
     
  10. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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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.
     
  11. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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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.





    Crawdaddy
     
  12. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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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
     
  13. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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  14. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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  15. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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

    [​IMG]

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

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    If so, he was still incorrect because Welles also received an Honorary Oscar in the early 1970s.
     
  17. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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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?
     
  18. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Wait, I found it.


     
  19. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Looks like Warner doesn't think Chaplin's place in cinematic history has diminished recently.

    DigitalBits
     
  20. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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