SaMira NelsonMrs. Lewis & Mrs. BonnellELA 819 December 2017The Life and Times of Charlie Chaplin Early Life Charlie Chaplin was an actor and a director.  He began touring with Eight Lancashire Lads,(they worked in the English music halls) in England.  He learned about character development; from pantomime, also popular with English audiences.  He learned clowning; from the circus he learned acrobatics. Finally Chaplin caught the attention of Fred Karno, a famous comedy director, and  Chaplin joined Karno’s group Keystone and “began what was to become the most illustrious film career in history” (Erskine).

He first appeared in Mabel’s Strange Predicament, Chaplin’s third Keystone comedy.II. Life’s Work Chaplin’s first film for United Artists, signaled a significant change in his filmmaking career.(Erskine) The actor-director also became a producer with control of all phases of of the few filmmakers who wrote, acted in, directed, and produced his films in fact, after the advent of sound, Chaplin wrote musical scores for some of his reissued silent films.After A Woman of Paris, a disappointment because he did not appear in his own film and because the film simply was not funny, Chaplin made the critically acclaimed and financially successful The Gold Rush, the high point of his career. After The Circus, his films became less comic and more political as they became “reflexive,” more related to his problems and concerns The 1940’s and early 1950’s were particularly turbulent years for Chaplin, who made only two films, Monsieur Verdoux and Limelight, before he left the United States in 1952.

(Erskine) Both films are far removed from the comic image of The Tramp, which is the Chaplin trademark. Verdoux, for example, is a capitalistic “Bluebeard” who defends himself against murder charges by claiming that murder is only a logical extension of business; Calvaro, the protagonist of Limelight, who has a career that parallels Chaplin’s, maintains that the artist must be selfish because art is happiness.(Erskine) III. SignificanceThough he never became an American citizen, Chaplin captured the American spirit as few other performers have.  According to my research, “In his Tramp persona Chaplin  dramatized humanity’s tragicomic struggle with fate as he portrayed the forgotten American, the underdog who overcame outsize adversaries, upper-class exploiters, and stubborn “machines” with an irreverence that was more American than British” (Erskine).

The most popular performer of his time, he earned $670,000 when he was but twenty-five years old (Erskine).                                                                                                           


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