Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Steve Jobs Legacy Continues

When Steve Jobs died two years ago, there were many products in the pipeline at Apple, yet to be revealed to the public.  It is said the Iphone 6 was well into development, the Iwatch and the Apple TV.  2014 may be the year all of these come out and if so, will push Apple beyond the phone and pad business.  Apple has also been quietly buying up small companies that work on Artificial Intelligence, AI, and small firms working on advanced robotics.  Is an "I Domestic Servant" in our future?  Who can say?

The 100 years of Chaplin in Movies Starts Now

Charlie Chaplin arrives on the lot of Keystone pictures 100 years ago this month. He hangs around for weeks until they finally use him in a movie. He was paid $150/week. Less than two years later, he would make $10,000/wk or $670,000/yr and become the most famous man on earth.

He was 25 when he made his first movie for Keystone, Making a Living, but not in his famous Tramp costume. The public would have to wait until a little 10 minute spur of the moment flick called, Kids Auto Races, where the tramp was first tried out on an unsuspecting public.

It was just Charlie and two cameramen and no one in the crowd knew they were seeing history in the making.  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chaplin and Edna Purviance

The top picture is the press release for Mutual's new stable of actors headed up by their $670,000 boy, Charles Chaplin and a former secretary by the name of Edna Purviance who ended up doing movies with Charlie up through The Kid for a total of 35 or so pictures with Charlie.  She was both his co star and very close to him off the set as his first real love in America.  He kept her on his payroll for 40 years, long after her contract ended in the mid 1920s.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chaplin and Sousa 1916

Gene Kelly plays way against type in the 1944 noir 'Christmas Holiday'
December 05, 2013|Nina Metz | Chicago Closeup

Looking over the Siskel Film Center schedule recently, a little-known film from 1944 called "Christmas Holiday" starring Gene Kelly caught my eye. Hang on. Hang on! Gene Kelly made a Christmas movie? How have I missed this?
"It's one of the oddest movies to come out of Hollywood during World War II," said film scholar Alan K. Rode of Universal's film noir adaptation of the 1939 Somerset Maugham novel, also called "Christmas Holiday." Despite the title, the story has almost nothing to with Christmas.
"I showed this movie last year at my festival in Palm Springs," Rode told me, "and I had Gene Kelly's widow come out and talk. Her life has been dedicated to keeping his legacy alive as a pioneer of dance and film. She's really sharp. And she had to laugh during portions of the movie. She said her husband hated it. He thought it was weird, and he didn't like his part."
The role is as un-Gene Kellyish as they come. He plays a New Orleans charmer with a gambling problem and anger control issues. Even after he seduces a naive young gal and marries her, his trajectory is filled with considerable nastiness. The guy is a louse. And a phony. And he lives with his mother.
It's not a performance that shows Kelly at his best. He looks uncomfortable in bad-guy mode.
"He is," said Rode. "He's miscast. He was borrowed from MGM (where he was under contract) and he really resented not having control over himself in this old studio era when you were treated like property."
But if you're getting Gene Kelly, why stick him in this type of movie?
"In that era," Rode said, "stars were box office. People went to movies in huge numbers during World War II, and they went based on who was in them. Gene Kelly was an up-and-coming guy at this point. Deanna Durbin was the much bigger star of the two."
Durbin, who plays Kelly's wife, humiliated and forced into prostitution, was actually a huge star at the time. Both a singer and an actress, she came up through the ranks at the same time as Judy Garland, and there was reportedly something of a rivalry there (at least on Garland's part). Durbin was known for her musical comedies and romances (including "Three Smart Girls," a precursor to "The Parent Trap") and her movies made huge sums for Universal — movies that all but kept the studio afloat.
In 1938 both Durbin and Mickey Rooney received an Academy Juvenile Award, an honorary Oscar given to performers under 18 (a practice since phased out). A decade later she was among the highest paid female stars in Hollywood.
Here's a measure of her wattage: According to her obituary in Variety (she died this past April at age 91), her picture was among others that Anne Frank hung in the attic where she and her family hid from the Nazis.
By 1947, thought, Durbin chucked it all, married her third husband and moved to France. She was just 26 when she abandoned her career in movies.
That might have been because the transition from child star to adult roles proved somewhat awkward. She had long been the girl-next-door and "Christmas Holiday" was a stab at shaking her old image.
The movie is bizarre, but bits and pieces stand out. When Kelly brings Durbin to a scrubby drinking hole, she notes that the air is thick with smoke. "It's a law," Kelly tells her. "Don't ask me why, but it's a law."
There's another gem of a moment, when the madam of a brothel, dressed in a gorgeous, slinky sequined dress, offers an appraisal of Durbin: "I like that kid. I like that one-man look in her eyes. I only wish it was a different kind of guy." Richard Whorf, who became good friends with Kelly during filming, plays a jaded, drunken newsman who gives the movie some needed snap. But otherwise, the thing is bonkers.
Here's Rode's assessment: "The movie is so weird because it took one of the greatest musical actresses, who really saved Universal Studios, and cast her as prostitute singing in a road house. And then it took Gene Kelly and turned him into this duplicitous murderer who had an unhealthy, probably incestuous relationship with his mother. How weird is that?"
The film's producer first tried to get things rolling shortly after the book was published. But per Rode: "The Production Code Authority, which was Hollywood's censor, basically said there's no way you can make this book into a movie with all its overtones of murder, prostitution and incest, so forget it.
"Universal took another crack at it a few years later, and by this time Durbin was Universal's meal ticket. So if she said she wanted be in this kind of perverse story, they were willing to indulge her. Because anything she was in would do well at the box office."
It turned out to be her most successful movie, making more than $2 million — more than any of her previous films.
The thing is, it's not a great movie.
"No, it isn't," Rode said. "But it's an interesting movie. As a film historian watching this I was wondering, who greenlighted this? It is so un-Hollywood. Particularly for 1944, right in the middle of World War II when Hollywood was producing so many movies that were distractions — the sword-and-sandal stuff, the horror movies, the patriotic war-themed films.
Rode said screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (who co-wrote "Citizen Kane" and "The Wizard of Oz") deserves much of the credit for the strangeness of the film.
"Mankiewicz was an outrageously talented, outrageous character who eventually drank himself out of Hollywood. It's a fascinating screenplay. And maybe it's only a screenplay that someone who is an alcoholic and kind of crazy can come up with. I think a lot of the weirdness of the movie is reflected by Herman Mankiewicz."
And what of that deceptively seasonal title? "It was released in May," said Rode. "No one had enough gumption to release this in December as a Christmas movie. It's not a feel-good movie at all."
"Christmas Holiday" screens 5 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. Monday at the Siskel Film Center. Go to siskelfilmcenter.org/christmas-holiday.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas from Charlie Chaplin

A picture video to Chaplin's own music from The Kid.

Gene Kelly Show by Patricia Ward Kelly

Gene Kelly, unplugged

Patricia Kelly brings the Hollywood icon to life at the Palm Saturday

By Heather Sackett
Associate Editor
Published: Friday, December 20, 2013 6:07 AM CST
Most people recognize Gene Kelly as one the most beloved singers, actors and dancers of the 20th century.

But few know that Gene Kelly, who died in 1996, spoke Yiddish and fluent French, often read a book a day and was an economics major in college. He was the epitome of the Renaissance Man, said biographer, film historian and wife Patricia Kelly. She will bring audience members behind the scenes of the Hollywood icon’s life Saturday night at the Michael D. Palm Theatre with “Gene Kelly: The Legacy.”

“That’s the point of the show: to show the breadth of this man,” Patricia Kelly said. “They love him up on the screen but they don’t realize there’s so much to him and it’s kind of fun to reveal that and take them through his creative process and what drove him and what inspired him and what made him distinct from anyone before him.”

Patricia Kelly’s show is an informal, conversational night of storytelling, woven together with well-known (and some not-so-well-known) film clips. The presentation is built around 10 years of near-daily audio recordings Patricia made of Gene. He would often sing to her at night, revealing a seldom-seen part of himself and his emotions, she said. Patricia then unpacks some of the entertainer’s belongings on stage, bringing the audience into their private lives and closer to the real man behind the legend.

Palm Theatre Artistic Director Scott Doser grew up in the 1950s during the height of Gene Kelly’s fame when he starred in movies like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “An American in Paris.” He said the star had a profound impact on him and is excited he could book “Gene Kelly: The Legacy” for a Telluride audience.

“Growing up, my personal taste in entertainment rarely overlapped with that of my mother and grandmother, but Gene Kelly was one of the artists who transcended that division,” Doser said.

Gene Kelly is perhaps best known for his iconic singin’ in the rain scene from the beloved movie of the same name. The soggy, splashy, dance number with an umbrella has been parodied by everyone from “Sesame Street” to “Glee.” He was also one of the first performers to combine live action and animation when he danced with Jerry the mouse in 1945’s “Anchors Aweigh.” But Patricia says Gene would rather be remembered for his work off-stage. He was a pioneer of making dance a part of the story and changing the look of dance on film.

“He was trying to figure out how you capture this three-dimensional form if you are constantly moving toward the camera,” Patricia Kelly said. “He devised choreography that was specifically for the camera to capture the dance …  He was way ahead of his time.”

Patricia took her unique show on the road last year, in honor of what would have been Gene’s 100th birthday. The two met when she was just 26 and he was 73. But the age difference was never an issue, she said, as they bonded over poetry and literature. Patricia hopes that audience members will come away from the presentation with a more complete picture of the man on the big screen: the one who would plow through the entire collection of Charles Dickens for fun.

“I call it ‘Gene on Gene,’ or ‘Gene Kelly, Unplugged,’” Patricia said. “It gives you a real sense of the man as a creative artist and more the man behind the camera than the man in front of the camera. It’s a really personal look at him.”

“Gene Kelly: The Legacy” is at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Michael D. Palm Theatre. There is a pre-show reception with chocolate, champagne and Patricia Kelly at 6 p.m. Tickets are $38 for adults and $22 for students. The reception is $12 with a ticket and free for Palm members.

Steve Jobs Drove Innovation

Everyone knows and understands the mindset and the creativity that was Steve Jobs. Steve was a pioneer in so many things technology. Devices and innovations that the world takes for granted nowadays would not be in existence if not for the work of Steve and Apple. But one only has to look around, online and in stores, at the current tech device offerings to realize that the days of large scale, ground-breaking, innovative products have disappeared with Steve's passing. It is as if the creativity wheels stopped turning once the technology king was gone.
The current market of computers and media devices are a mixture of me-toos and semi-nextgen products. Tablets, MP3 players and smartphones are all regurgitated incarnations of devices past. These products are the same, except for a little more memory here, a little more battery life there and maybe a dash of extra pixels. All of this is interesting, but none of it is new or innovative to say the least. Tech consumers are forced to swallow the bitter pill that is "last year's device" with a few extra bells and lights.
But technology fans are used to the idea of next generation products. We are used to seeing updates and upgrades, as technology improves under the same device generation. But what is troubling is the trend of introducing updated and upgraded devices as "new" devices. This is a technology cop-out that does a huge dis-service to technology consumers. The modern "Techsumer," by virtue of his knowledge of technology, expects nothing less than new technology PRODUCTS from year to year, not updates and upgrades marketed as new products. For the most part this has happened -- until Steve passed away, that is.
Today there are no new breakthrough devices -- at least not from Apple, who "was" the default king of technology devices. Apple has given way to Samsung, LG, Google and others who realized (most unknowingly) that once Steve was gone, the walls of the Kingdom of Apple would soon start to crumble. Without Steve's tenacity and guidance, Apple would be taken over by paper-pushers and accountants, who have little or no creative blood in the veins to speak of. Hence the current array of "nothing new" Apple products.
Creatives tend to struggle in the business world. Our ideals and concepts do not speak to profit, nor do they speak to ease-of manufacturing or low cost. Creatives are the engine that generates all that is new and exciting, ground breaking, and game changing. Steve was a Creative. But what he brought along with that creativity, was the balls to force the paper-pushers into not making me-too products. He was a Creative Driver.
What is left for us currently is a mass of kinda cool, kinda better products. Nothing awe-inspiring, nothing truly paradigm shifting, nothing really original, and nothing innovative.
There is now a place in the technology realm for a new king. Someone who would take the wheels of creativity, roll up their sleeves, and start challenging the status quo with actual new products. The question remains -- who will this person be?

Chaplin: Being, Not Acting

The final moments of City Lights are a beautiful impossibility. Impossible not simply in how the scene works, but that it works at all. Describe it to someone who hasn’t experienced those last few minutes and it sounds like sentimental nonsense. A fey tramp, a blind flower girl. A literal description comes across as a badly conceived metaphor in a not-very-good love letter. And yet, its one of the most important moments in cinematic history.

Charlie Chaplin’s greatest moments are always like this. He created beauty through understatement. This low-key and eccentric humor emerged in part from the fact that he tied his comedy to the least funny elements of modern life. His films managed not only to whistle past graveyards but also to pantomime past the soulless dead zones of factories, class oppression, and even the horrors of fascism.

The new Criterion Blu-ray release of his classic, City Lights, not only reminds us of this, it celebrates the power and simplicity of his work. The supplementary materials make it clear that, as we’ve always known, Chaplin represents the archetypal auteur. They also remind us that he had a lot of help.

The supplementary materials for this release shatter an oft-repeated myth about City Lights. In many anecdotal stories about its production, Virginia Cherrill comes across as the starlet who didn’t care, the ingĂ©nue that Chaplin considered firing because she skipped a filming to keep a hair appointment. Audio commentary and other special features put this story to rest. The hair appointment story has some truth to it. But the emotional power of the film remains unimaginable without her.

City Lights also offers us the fullest flowering of Chaplin’s signature character, “the Tramp”. His trademark avatar had undergone a thorough transformation since he first portrayed a version of the Tramp for the Keystone comedy shorts. That early version of the Tramp, somewhat shocking to us today, often appeared as an irascible and feckless drunk with a mean streak.

By the time Chaplin made City Lights, he had transformed the character into a lovable rapscallion, gentle and uncertain and capturing something irreducible about human experience. He remained rather feckless, falling helplessly into the difficulties and terrors of the 20th century. This made us love him more.

In fact, the “other” most famous scene in City Lights has the Tramp ruining a moment of civic pride and not being really very clear why he’s ruining it. Not only did Chaplin create humor and pathos through simplicity, he became the mouthpiece of everyone ever confused by the modern world and its obsessions. He introduced parody and satire to a moment that was supremely serious and we owe him more than we realize for the saving power of modern irony.

Criterion has packed in some new materials with this release, including a wonderful audio commentary with Jeffrey Vance, the author of one of the more celebrated studies of Chaplin’s career. Vance knows both the technical story and can talk to us about the kind of film stock Chaplin’s preferred.  But he also shares anecdotes about Gene Harlow appearing (sort of) as an extra in City Lights well-known dance hall sequence. The commentary never becomes dry and it made me want to read Vance’s apparently wonderful book.

Supplementary materials also include a 27-minute documentary about the making of the film first produced in 2003. It’s excellent and does a good job placing it in both the historical context of America’s Great Depression (a world with plenty of tramps) and in relation to Chaplin’s larger career. In another short featurette, visual effects expert Craig Barron explores the cinematic effects created by Chaplin studios, the backlot of which was quite tiny in comparison to some of the outsized cityscapes we see in City Lights.

Criterion generally includes a booklet with some excellent film essays. This release is no exception. It contains a long-ish essay by Gary Giddins that explores how Chaplin managed to combine, in his words. “burlesque comedy and dreadful pathos” and pulled it off without sentimentality because “a cosmic banana peel” always brings his films back to earth. In a day when we are used to romantic comedies that succeed in making us hate the very notion of romance, City Lights turned existential trauma into comedy, and then back into the darkness again.

The booklet also contains a revelatory 1967 essay on the film by Richard Meryman. It’s a hilarious piece, with ruminations on Brando trying to be funny and what that would be like as well as Brando not trying to be funny, and succeeding.  Meryman’s reflections on the meaning and power of comedy capture the essence of the Tramp. He has no money. He’s knows it. He’s defenseless and basically scared. We don’t laugh at him. We laugh with him at all the things we are supposed to value.

The Blu-ray transfer is amazing, a 4k resolution born out of a 35mm duplicate negative and a 24-bit remastered soundtrack. The title cards have a gorgeous look and texture, and some of the crowd scenes that appeared fuzzy in previous transfers are now perfectly defined. 

You’ll be stunned by the clean-up work done here. But its not the quality of the transfer that will capture you. The Tramp, and the not-so-half-hearted worked of Virginia Cherrill, perfectly embody the saddest and best of ourselves, and transforms sentiment into a look into the very heart of love and hope.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Gene Kelly Gem is Finally Here

AT LAST! The long-awaited arrival of Gene's masterful Omnibus Television Special:
 "Dancing, A Man's Game." Tomorrow - December 17. This is an amazing program
 and one that reveals much about Gene as a dancer, athlete, choreographer, director, 
and brilliant historian of dance. He very much wanted this program released. 
Please let us know what you think of it!
AT LAST! The long-awaited arrival of Gene's masterful Omnibus Television Special: "Dancing, A Man's Game." Tomorrow - December 17. This is an amazing program an...

The Most Incredible Chaplin Fact

Charlie Chaplin made more people laugh than anyone in the entire history of mankind as well as being the most recognized face on the planet during his time as "The Tramp".

Prove me wrong!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Chaplin Arrives in Hollywood: 100 Years Ago

Charlie Chaplin's Los Angeles: a black and white odyssey

In search of flickering reminders of Chaplin's LA, Kira Cochrane follows in the footsteps of The Little Tramp, on the centenary of his arrival in Hollywood
Charlie Chaplin slept here: LA hotels
Charlie Chaplin, second from right, with stars Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks (right) and director D W Griffith on the day they formed United Artists. Photograph: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
The footprints and signature on the doorstep have faded, but there's no confusion about who built these studios: Charlie Chaplin, dressed as the Little Tramp, is painted on the door. Time-lapse footage of the construction of this mock Tudor village – now owned by the Jim Henson Company and identified by a 12ft statue of Kermit above the entrance – appears in How To Make Movies, a film directed by Chaplin in 1918. It shows the small hamlet emerging among the lemon groves that once undulated here, a city rising from the dust.
I wonder how much of Hollywood would exist if Chaplin had never arrived. If the manager of his touring vaudeville troupe had never received that abrupt, misspelled telegram from some filmmakers: "IS THERE A MAN NAMED CHAFFIN IN YOUR COMPANY" would this still be a drowsy little village?
Chaplin first came to Los Angeles exactly a century ago, a British comic in his mid-20s, arriving in an era when screen actors were just beginning to be known by name. At Keystone Studios, where he started work, the director Mack Sennett told him to put on a comic costume one day – "anything will do". So Chaplin contrived an outfit where everything was at odds: "the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large," he wrote in his autobiography.
By the time he walked out on set, a few moments later, he knew who this character was. The man he would play for the next 22 years was, "a tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure". The character was the ultimate outsider, and within two years he was also a global phenomenon.
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel's poolThe Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel's pool. Photograph: Alamy
At that time, the future of Hollywood – a district with just 500 residents in 1900 – was far from guaranteed. The weather and light were similarly good in Florida and Arizona, and studios were thriving in New York. But in the time it took Chaplin to become the best-loved, highest-paid star the world had ever seen, Hollywood's destiny became undeniable. An industry town, devoted to telling stories, was born.
That makes Hollywood sound romantic, which isn't the obvious word to describe the area today. The walk from Chaplin's studio to Hollywood Boulevard is a blur of tattoo parlours, speeding cars and sprawling apartment buildings thrown up to house the steady stream of people who arrive with dreams of acting or directing in the shadow of the Hollywood sign. Tourists flock to the pavement outside Grauman's Chinese Theatrein search of their favourite actors' handprints while, not far away, a large outdoor screen promotes celebrity tours by popular gossip website TMZ. There are people dressed as Elmo and Batman, in battered costumes, touting to appear in tourist photographs. A lone Chaplin impersonator twirls his cane, looking a little lost.
But peer closer and you can still find traces of old Hollywood. It's in the huge handprints and tiny footprints made by silent-screen stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford respectively, in 1927 in the concrete outside Grauman's. And it's in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which opened over the road, financed by the couple, the same year. Chaplin, a friend of Fairbanks, became a regular guest and it was here, in 1929, when the first Oscars ceremony took place, that Chaplin was given a special award "for versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing" his 1928 film The Circus.
The Blossom Room, where those first Academy Awards were handed out in a ceremony for 250 people, is now a private venue but in the lobby is the Library Bar, which anyone can visit. It's a wood-lined, candlelit sanctuary of leather booths, with barmen who rustle up bespoke cocktails according to guest tastes rather than classic cocktail names, and it feels miles away from the tourist hullabaloo.
Charlie Chaplin in a scene from The CircusCharlie Chaplin in a scene from The Circus. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
After our drinks, my partner Alex and I went to the Musso and Frank Grill, opened in 1919, where Chaplin dined so often he had his own booth at the front of the building, from which he could keep an eye on his car. With its smartly dressed waiters and red leather seating, it feels little changed. Our waiter told us the barman had been working there since 1969. The food was hearty and reasonably priced, my spaghetti with meatballs ($22) and Alex's clam linguine ($20) both delicious.
It was just a little further along Hollywood Boulevard that Chaplin filmed the first feature-length comedy ever made in the US, Tillie's Punctured Romance, released in November 1914. John Bengston's book, Silent Traces, shows stills from that film, in which Chaplin appeared with renowned comedians Marie Dressler and Mabel Normand, in the days when trolley cars rolled down this thoroughfare.
A short walk from Hollywood Boulevard is the barn leased by Cecil B DeMille and Jesse Lasky in 1913 to use as a studio for filming The Squaw Man (released 1914), Hollywood's first dramatic feature. The barn now houses the Hollywood Heritage Museum, complete with a replica of DeMille's office circa 1914, and mouldings saved from the Garden Court Apartments, where Chaplin's first director, Mack Sennett used to live. Dave, one of the museum's volunteers, and a gentle man with the air of an urban cowboy, led us on a detailed, personalised walking tour on Hollywood Boulevard for $10 each.
Dave told us about the days when the signs "no dogs, no actors" would appear in the windows of houses to rent, took us past the Egyptian Theatre, which hosted Hollywood's first premiere: Fairbanks's swashbuckling Robin Hood in 1922, and pointed out the Pig'n'Whistlerestaurant next door.
"Charlie Chaplin would go in, go behind the bar, and make his own ice-cream sundaes," he said.
The Beverly Hills HotelThe undimmed glamour of the Beverly Hills Hotel. Photograph: Niall Clutton
It was difficult to imagine any old Hollywood stars spending time on this drag now. Pickford may once have caroused in its bars but these days, one imagines, she would be happier at home in Beverly Hills, where she and other stars were lured by the Beverly Hills Hotel, after it opened in 1912.
Images of it in that era show it sitting in rural splendour, fields stretching for miles around it. The hotel, a pink ice-cream cake of a building hidden in a leafy grove, is still thriving among the types of people with money to pay for its opulence and discretion. Bedrooms have swag curtains and tasteful four-posters, sunken baths and black and pink marble in the en suites. In the grounds are 23 bungalows: Marilyn Monroe stayed in one, and Howard Hughes lived here for decades, with the staff catering to his unusual whims, leaving roast beef sandwiches in the trees, and hiding pineapple upside-down cakes in the grounds for his 2am treasure hunts.
The more straightforward guests tended, then and now, to eat in the hotel's restaurants, including the Polo Lounge, where for decades Chaplin had a standing reservation for booth number one. If he didn't show, it stayed empty. Anyone can make a reservation today and while the menu includes Siberian caviar for $180, the house burger, and West Hollywood salad (featuring quinoa, faro and kale), both $28, are more affordable options.
Pig'n Whistle Restaurant and BarPig'n Whistle Restaurant and Bar. Photograph: Alamy
From the Beverly Hills Hotel, Chaplin would have strolled to Virginia Robinson's estate , where he played tennis and relaxed in the gardens while her pet monkeys roamed free. Two of the vivacious volunteers who have helped preserve the estate – Jeanne Anderson, in a perfect pink hat, and Marcella Ruble, in a peanut-shell necklace – showed us around the gardens, through the palm forest, with its flowering ginger and lady palm, the kitchen garden, with its lemon trees and creeping fig, to the metal garden seats, known as button chairs, that Robinson bought with Frank Capra.
"Try one," said Anderson. I did. It was ridiculously comfortable. You can book a tour today, see the bougainvillea weep over the tennis courts, and walk, once again, in Chaplin's footsteps.