Friday, June 14, 2013

World Tour Revisited: Charlie & May Reeves visit H.G Wells in the south of France, c. May/June 1931


From "A Comedian Sees The World":
H.G. Wells was staying near Grasse and invited me to spend a few days with him. He was just completing his book, "The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind"- a colossal undertaking upon which he had been working three years.
"What are you going to do after it's finished?" I asked.
"Start on another one."
"Good heavens! I should imagine you'd want to get away from work for a while and do something else."
H.G. laughed mischievously. "What else is there to do?"
Discussing my pictures he said he would like to see me return to the shorter comedy subjects. "You set yourself a difficult task, adhering to plot and theme so much. Who remembers the plots of Dickens' books--Pickwick Papers, for instance? It was their incidents and characterizations that made the appeal. Personally I would like to see you oftener on the screen in those two-reel pictures which had so much spontaneity.
Grasse is celebrated for the manufacture of perfumery, and H.G. and I planned to go over some of the factories. I've heard somewhere that the preparation of attar of roses requires the crushingof four million flowers to obtain a pound of essence which costs approximately five hundred dollars.
We intended viewing the monuments of the city and the cathedral. However as we were climbing the narrow streets my garter broke. This made it necessary for us to go to the shopping center to buy a new pair.
As we wended our way, H.G. extolling the beauties of the city, he was unconscious of the people who began to crowd in the doorways of the stores. They seemed to come from nowhere, and before we knew it we were like the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
It was no use. Normal conversation was impossible. H.G. became alarmed. "I think you'd better walk by yourself," he suggested, "and I'll meet you at the car later."
"Oh, no," I insisted. "You're going to see it, through."
We took refuge in the shop for a while, but eventually had to brave the storm, marching through alleys with the throngs at the back of us.
To visit the perfume factories or the cathedral now was impossible. "I'm sorry, but you'll have to put it off until you've grown a beard," he said and so we made our way back to the automobile and escaped.  (Chaplin, ACSTW Part Three, A Woman's Home Companion, Nov. 1933)

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