Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Red Letter Days

One of the reasons I haven't posted anything new recently is because I have been staying up until the wee hours the last few nights reading Dan Kamin's terrific new book. It's called Charlie Chaplin's Red Letter Days and it reproduces, for the very first time, Fred Goodwins' first-hand accounts of day-to-day life at the Chaplin studio during the Mutual period (& the end of the Essanays). These accounts originally appeared in Red Letter, a British magazine, in 1916, and have been unseen for nearly a century until film historian, and the book's editor, David James, discovered the magazines at the British Library in 2013. If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I live for obscure little tidbits about Chaplin, and this book is chock full of them. It is a wonderful first-hand account of this period of Chaplin's career that we haven't seen any where else. Goodwins' text is accompanied by helpful annotations and commentary by Chaplin expert Dan Kamin.

I haven't finished the book yet but wanted to give you a taste of what to expect. There are some wonderful behind-the-scenes stories about not only the movies but the people, including Edna Purviance learning Cockney rhyming slang, Eric Campbell's preference for things that are small, and Charlie's concern when his beloved pet goat, Billy, gets injured.

The book is a bit on the pricey side, but well worth it.


  1. I need this book now! I was just reading an obscure book about Chaplin that was truly a chore to get through...The Great Charlie by Robert Payne. A psychological journey from the dawn of comedy through Chaplin's Monsieur Verdouox. Nothing about the film process, more about psychologically investigating every element of Chaplin's Tramp character. Very taxing.

    1. This book was discussed on a Chaplin forum I was part of years ago. Practically every person who had tried to read it couldn't get through it. Because of that I never bothered with it.