Sunday, May 24, 2015

"I'm always conscious of the Chaplin Tramp"

Dylan in London, 1966. Photo by Barry Feinstein.

Bob Dylan, who turns 74 today, was asked early in his career about his idols: "If I'm on stage, my idol--even my biggest idol when I'm on stage, the one that's running through my head all the time, is Charlie Chaplin."1

He impacted Dylan not only on stage but in other ways as well: "He influences me, even in the way I sing. His films really sank in. I like to see the humor in the world. There is so little of it around. I guess I’m always conscious of the Chaplin tramp."2 Therefore it's not surprising that Dylan would include references to his idol in his radio show "Theme Time Radio Hour" which aired on SiriusXM from 2006-2009. Here are a few of those clips:

During an episode entitled "Street Map," Dylan briefly mentions Chaplin's 1917 film Easy Street.

In a show called "Work & Jobs," he talks about Jackie Coogan and plays a brief interview clip in which Jackie talks about working with Chaplin on The Kid.

Lastly, Dylan plays Judy Garland's version of "Smile" during an episode called "Happiness." He explains that the melody was written by Chaplin for his film Modern Times, which, not coincidently, is also the name of a 2006 album by Dylan.

1"The Billy James Interview," Fall 1961
2Robert Shelton, No Direction Home, 1986

Saturday, May 23, 2015

"He made no attempt to trip the manicure girl, to douse her face in the bowl of water, or pick his teeth with her scissors."

From Wichita Eagle, February 13, 1916:

Friday, May 22, 2015

Some of the cast & crew of A WOMAN OF PARIS, 1923

Chaplin is kneeling in front with cameraman Rollie Totheroh. Back row (L-R): ?, assistant director Eddie Sutherland, Harry D’Arrast, Adolphe Menjou, Granville Redmond, Jean De Limur, Monta Bell, cameraman Jack Wilson (?) & studio manager, Alf Reeves.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ping Pong

This photo shows Charlie & Bebe Daniels in a ping pong match against writer Adele Rogers St. Johns and her husband Dick Hyland at Daniels' beach house in 1928. The referee is screenwriter Charles Furthman. This is an alternate view of a more commonly-seen photo that just shows Charlie and Bebe (see that and another photo here). Somehow, not surprisingly, Charlie is the only one wearing a suit and tie at the beach.

Los Angeles Times, July 29, 1928

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Devon Horse Show, May 1927

This was possibly taken at the Devon (PA) Horse Show which Chaplin attended during his 8-month East Coast sojourn in 1927. See other photos here.

The other man may be Chaplin's host for the outing, radio manufacturer Arthur Atwater Kent.

Heraldo de Mexico, June 5, 1927
The caption translates: "A pose of Charles Chaplin, the restless actor,
 on a recent visit to Philadelphia."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tony Bennett on Chaplin & Chaplin on The Best Years Of Our Lives

At 10:30 tonight on TCM, guest programmer Tony Bennett will introduce Modern Times, starring one of his heroes, Charlie Chaplin. In his autobiography, Bennett wrote that Chaplin "never made a movie without love, and as a result, each of his films is a masterpiece." Because of his admiration for Chaplin, he was touched by a gift he received from him in the early 1970s:
One day a package arrived in the mail for me. I opened it to find a canister that held an original copy of the last ten minutes of Modern Times, the film in which the song "Smile" (composed by Chaplin) first appeared. Chaplin had heard my recorded version, and out of appreciation sent me this treasured gift. Imagine that. 1

Another of Mr. Bennett's picks tonight is William Wyler's 1946 post-World War II classic The Best Years Of Our Lives, a film Chaplin once called "the most significant picture to come out of Hollywood in years--significant not only for what the film itself accomplishes but also for the encouragement the film's success will give to other producers [to make daring and out-of-the-ordinary films]. 2

Below is a humorous anecdote told by German philosopher Theodor Adorno involving himself, Chaplin, and one of the stars of the film, Harold Russell:
Perhaps I may justify my speaking about [Chaplin] by recounting a certain privilege which I was granted, entirely without having earned it. He once imitated me, and surely I am one of the few intellectuals to whom this happened and to be able to account for it when it happened. Together with many others we were invited to a villa in Malibu, on the coast outside of Los Angeles. While Chaplin stood next to me, one of the guests was taking his leave early. Unlike Chaplin, I extended my hand to him a bit absent-mindedly, and, almost instantly, started violently back. The man was one of the lead actors from The Best Years of Our Lives, a film famous shortly after the war; he lost a hand during the war, and in its place bore practicable claws made of iron. When I shook his right hand and felt it return the pressure, I was extremely startled, but sensed immediately that I could not reveal my shock to the injured man at any price. In a split second I transformed my frightened expression into an obliging grimace that must have been far ghastlier. The actor had hardly moved away when Chaplin was already playing the scene back. 3

1Tony Bennett,  Life Is a Gift, 2014
2Thomas Pryor, "Trail's End For The Tramp," New York Times, April 13, 1947
3Theodor Adorno, "Chaplin Times Two," reprinted in The Essential Chaplin, 2006

Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Showing some pictures one day to a friend, Chaplin came to one, a woman's portrait, at which he gazed for a time with loving, tender eyes. 'My mother!' he then said simply. 'To her I owe everything and all that I am today.'" (Elsie Codd, "The Real Charlie Chaplin," Picture Show, May 1919)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Charlie and his mother, Hannah, sharing a moment together at the Chaplin Studios--well, not really

It being Mother's Day weekend and all, I have a feeling the above photo of Charlie and his mum will be making the rounds on Chaplin social media sites. Unfortunately, this isn't a real photo of mother and son but a composite, meaning it's two separate images that have been spliced together into one.  Thanks to fellow photo sleuth, Dominique Dugros, who made this discovery and even found the original photo of Hannah (below, it was flipped for the composite).

The original version of the Charlie side of the photo is still a mystery. Although it appears to have been taken at the same time as this photo:

Sadly, what all of this means is that there are no real photos, at least that we know of, of Charlie and his mother together. All of the existing ones are composites, including this one.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Charlie and Paulette, c.1939

A caption for a similar photo taken at the same time claims this is from the premiere of Gone With The Wind. I'm not sure if that's true but it's certainly from that time period.