Showing posts with label Panacea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Panacea. Show all posts

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chaplin & Napoleon

                                                    Chaplin in costume as Napoleon, c.1930

Chaplin had a life-long fascination with Napoleon Bonaparte and for many years considered making a film about him. When he was looking for a dramatic vehicle to launch Edna Purviance's career, one of his first thoughts was to star her as Josephine to his Napoleon. Edna was not the first of Chaplin's female friends/companions to be offered the role of the Little Corporal's wife. Among them were Lita Grey (in private, Chaplin referred to her as "My Empress Josephine"),1 Raquel Meller, Merna Kennedy, Estelle Taylor,2 and May Reeves.

Merna Kennedy wearing a Napoleon-style hat (the same one Harry Crocker is wearing below)
in a photo taken at the Chaplin Studios.
Lita Grey posing in Napoleonic jewels at an exhibition in New York City, 1932.
During her marriage to Chaplin, they attended a fancy dress party as Napoleon and Josephine.
Click here to see a photo.

During the summer of 1934, Chaplin embarked on a screenplay for the Napoleon film with with his new friend, Alistair Cooke. Many months were spent on the script, which would be based on Napoleon's experiences in St. Helena, until Chaplin suddenly declared "it's a beautiful idea, for someone else."3

                                                                  With Harry Crocker

Below is a home movie of Chaplin as Napoleon that was filmed by Alistair Cooke aboard Chaplin's yacht, Panacea, during the summer of 1933. Alistair Cooke describes the film in his book, Six Men:
Chaplin suddenly asked me to take some photographs, both still and in motion, of himself as Napoleon. He pulled his hair down into a ropy forelock, slipped one hand into his breast pocket, and slumped into a wistful emperor. He started to talk to himself, tossing in strange names to me--Bertrand, Montholon--and then took umbrage, flung an accusing finger at me and, having transformed his dreamy eyes into icicles, delivered a tirade against the British treatment of him on "the little island." His face was now a hewn rock of defiance. I still have it on film, and it's a chilling thing to see. 

For a more in-depth look at the Napoleon project and how it eventually morphed (somewhat) into The Great Dictator, click here to watch a 20-minute visual essay by Chaplin archivist Cecilia Cenciarelli entitled "Chaplin's Napoleon."


1Lita Grey Chaplin, My Life With Chaplin

2Movie Classic, November 1932. Additional note: Chaplin was romantically linked to Taylor during the early part of 1924. There were even rumors of an engagement, but Taylor nipped that in the bud: "No, I couldn't take that kind of punishment. I will pick my own persimmons. Charlie isn't one of them." (Adela Rogers St Johns, Love, Laughter, and Tears

3Alistair Cooke, Six Men

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Charlie serenades Paulette with an accordion on the Panacea, c. 1933

Charlie bought his first accordion (perhaps the same one he is playing here) during his romance with Georgia Hale a few years before. According to her, they were shopping for a gift for her sister's wedding when Charlie spotted the instrument and couldn't resist buying it. After they returned to her house, he strolled around trying to play it while she got dressed for the evening. By the time she was ready, he was playing the instrument "like a trouper." (Georgia Hale, Charlie Chaplin: Intimate Close-ups)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

With his sons Charlie, Jr. (left) and Sydney, 1940

The original caption (in Dutch) said Charlie & the boys were on his motorboat. I assume this is on the Panacea but I'm not sure. I'm also not sure what Charlie is doing with his hands here.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Andy Anderson, Charlie, & Paulette, 1933

Andy Anderson, a former Keystone Kop, was the skipper of Charlie's yacht, Panacea.
Photo by Alistair Cooke.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Welcome to summer!

Charlie balancing himself on the rail of his yacht, Panacea, summer 1933.
(From Alistair Cooke's home movie, All At Sea)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Charlie & Paulette aboard the Panacea, c. 1933

Paulette appears to be wearing gag glasses and the gentleman in the middle (Alistair Cooke?) a fake mustache and lips. I can't figure out what Charlie is holding. I thought it might be some kind of water gun or one of those slide whistles.

Source: Modern Times: Chaplin Project N. 2

Friday, September 28, 2012

"Panacea in every sense of the word"1

Charlie, Paulette, & Charlie, Jr. aboard the Panacea, 1940.  Chaplin purchased the Chris Craft 38-foot cruiser in the spring of 1933 as a surprise for Paulette. He had previously owned a yacht called the Edna P. (after Edna Purviance) and had considered naming his new yacht the Edna P. II but decided upon Panacea, a name he thought every boat should be called. When Charlie and Paulette split in 1942, she was given the yacht as part of her settlement.

1Charles Chaplin, My Autobiography, 1964