Monday, July 1, 2013

Viewing All 87 Chaplin Movies

Charlie Chaplin made 87 movies from 1914 to 1967.  He made 68 of these prior to starting his own studio in 1918.  Do the math 68 movies in four years and you get 17 movies a year or 1 movie every three weeks for 4 years.  Most of these movies were the so called, "shorts", of a 10 to 15 minute duration.  The films he made starting in 1918 with his own studio were mostly full length features.

Charlie directed around 80 of his films and wrote 75 of them as well as directed each.  This is an extraordinary feat.  No other actor in the history of motion pictures had so much artistic control as Chaplin.  As he began to take control of his career starting in March of 1914, he began to interject more of a story into his movies even though they were mostly the shorts.

Once he began to both write and direct his own movies for the Keystone Company, Essanay and Mutual, the movies took on a more sophisticated look and feel and with Pathos or sentimentality.  The tramp character evolved from a slapstick, not always ethical hobo, to a more lovable character.  Chaplin was still doing films for National at the time he started United Artists with D. W. Griffith, Douglas Fairbanks Sr and Mary Pickford.

He made only a dozen films from 1920 to 1967 and would often go three, four or up to seven years between his last few movies, but these full length features were his best work that included: The Kid, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times and The Great Dictator.  Even some of the shorter films during this time were brilliant.

I've been watching these movies, but in a strange order.  I started watching the last seven movies first to get a feel for the full extent of Chaplin's genius and to see how his brand of comedy had evolved over the years, taking into account all of the gags, mannerisms, facial expressions and pantomime.  I then went back to watch the movies from the beginning to spot where these gags originated since Charlie would often try out things as he went along in his filming and either include or cut them if it didn't promote the story line.

Watching his movies is not work, but simply fun and I find myself laughing out loud and having to go back to take a more academic approach to my viewing.

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