Chaplin (1992)

Hanspostcard is hosting a movie draft from 12 different genres…this is my biographical entry.

This fulfills my biographical genre. I started to get into silent movies in the late eighties. It started with a book on Clara Bow and it mushroomed from there. By 1992 I was ordering silent movies on VHS from New York and bootlegs where ever I could get them. The actors and actresses that got my attention were Clara Bow, Buster Keaton, Douglas Fairbanks Sr, Mary Pickford, and Charles Chaplin.

In 1992 I had just settled into my small Laverne and Shirley basement studio apartment when this movie was released. It was perfect timing because this was the peak of my silent movie interest. I would get USA Today everyday to check my Dodgers box scores and I read about this movie coming out. There was an advertisement where you could make a 99 cent phone call (per minute) to listen to some of the movie on the telephone. Yes I was that desperate (sucker) to do just that… to hear some of the movie…it was a different time.

I had read where Johnny Depp was up for the role and I thought he would have been the perfect person to play Chaplin. I was totally wrong…the perfect actor to play Chaplin was the one who got the role…Robert Downey Jr. He became Chaplin on the screen. He went as far as learning to play tennis left handed.

Robert Downey Jr. had a terrific cast surrounding him. Chaplin’s own daughter (Geraldine Chaplin) played Chaplin’s mom in the movie. Dan Aykroyd portrayed Mack Sennett, and Kevin Kline plays Douglas Fairbanks Sr. It was also directed by the great Richard Attenborough.

The movie starts with an 8 year old Chaplin taking the stage to sing after his mentally disturbed mom was booed off. Chaplin’s childhood was straight out of a Dickens novel. With help from his older brother Syd he got a job with a vaudeville unit ran by Fred Karno. He also met his first love Hetty Kelly who would shape his love interest for the rest of his life. His brother Syd worked as his manager when Chaplin got famous. In the beginning Syd was much more well known than Charlie…until the little tramp appeared.

The movie moves fast…sometimes a little too fast. All through the movie he is talking to an editor (Anthony Hopkins) about his then new (1964) autobiography and that is how they move the movie along. I wanted to see more about certain movies I’d enjoyed but they did have a lot to cover. They manage to touch on some of his political problems like with J. Edgar Hoover and when he made The Great Dictator.

The movie follows Chaplin through his movies, personal life,  and his politically rough waters. As with any movie about a historical figure…things will be missed, wrong, and forgotten but the movie hits the high spots of his life.

If you  really want to know about Chaplin read Chaplin: His Life and Art by David Robinson or watch one of the many documentaries on him. Chaplin was a complicated man…too complicated to be summed up in a two hour motion picture…but it was a great try. After reading so many books, what I wanted would have taken a 6 hour movie…so this is a good introduction to Chaplin.

The movie was very enjoyable and you do get the highs and lows of Charles Spencer Chaplin. You also get a hell of a good acting job from Robert Downey Jr. The movie also combines shots of the real Chaplin in his movies. Sitting in the theater it was magical…near the end of the movie they show real Chaplin clips as seen on an award show in 1972. The laughter in the theater was the loudest I’ve ever heard before or since… the Tramp still drew laughs in 1992 and he still does in 2021.

After watching this movie you will probably want to watch some Chaplin movies…that would be the best outcome…if you haven’t watched any…you are missing a true artist who not only starred but wrote, directed, and produced.

Cast

  • Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin
    • Hugh Downer as Charlie age 5
    • Thomas Bradford as Charlie age 14
  • Marisa Tomei as Mabel Normand
  • Geraldine Chaplin as Hannah Chaplin
  • Paul Rhys as Sydney Chaplin
    • Nicholas Gatt as Sydney age 9
  • John Thaw as Fred Karno
  • Moira Kelly as Hetty Kelly, Charlie’s first love / Oona O’Neill
  • Anthony Hopkins as George Hayden
  • Dan Aykroyd as Mack Sennett
  • Penelope Ann Miller as Edna Purviance
  • Kevin Kline as Douglas Fairbanks
  • Matthew Cottle as Stan Laurel
  • Maria Pitillo as Mary Pickford
  • Milla Jovovich as Mildred Harris
  • Kevin Dunn as J. Edgar Hoover
  • Deborah Moore as Lita Grey
  • Diane Lane as Paulette Goddard
  • Nancy Travis as Joan Barry
  • James Woods as Joseph Scott
  • Francesca Buller as Minnie Chaplin
  • David Duchovny as Roland Totheroh

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

24 thoughts on “Chaplin (1992)”

  1. Wow, Max, that is quite an assembled cast of starts. How did I miss this movie?? Robert Downey Jr. is a versatile actor and he will be in one of my picks coming up 🙂 I’ve watched Charlie Chaplin movies and laugh out loud when I do. So many movies too little time! Doesn’t he make some with The Keystone Cops? I love those scenes going in and out of doors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When he first started he was in a few where the cops appeared but he moved on and started to make movies with pathos and comedy mixed. The Gold Rush, City Lights, and Modern Times are ones to check out. He was brilliant…I’ve said this before… Chaplin and Keaton were like the Beatles and Stones….or Mac and PC LOL of their time.
      Downey does a great job…everyone does and Kline plays one of my favorite actors…Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

      I wanted a movie more about his movies but sex and scandals sell…but it is really good.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s too bad he couldn’t have done a parody of J Edgar like he did of Hitler. Question: do you think he took his look and style as an ongoing comic image of Hitler?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No it would have been the other way around lol…Chaplin got that look in around 1914…way before Hitler was known. Everyone thought Chaplin was Jewish…but he wasn’t…his half brother was half Jewish…I hate Edgar…and I don’t hate many people…the bastard tried to deport two of my favorite people…Chaplin and Lennon.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oops way off on my timeline, I see lol. Wouldn’t it be weird to learn that the evil one styled himself after Chaplin, just to get past people’s defenses? Yes, I’m a conspiracy theorist. I don’t know a lot about Edgar other than he got into too many peoples’ businesses. Didn’t he and Macarthy work hand in hand? They’re both in a special place in hell, I”m sure of that.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes he did work with McCarthy…and yea I can’t stand him either. He ruin a lot of people’s lives just to get attention. As you know I’m neither liberal or conservative…but it’s not a crime to be either…he just made up reasons to go after liberals and did not find one communist.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Max, I’ve never understood why anyone gets so riled up over somebody being a communist. It’s their choice. I can’t see USA ever becoming full communist so what’s the big deal? I like a lot of the ideas, like sharing labor and the fruits of it with a group of like-minded people.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I think it’s a choice also. Now if they were spying…OK I see that on both sides but these were teachers and actors…what the heck were they going to do? Lennon’s phone was being tapped…he went on to either Cavett or Douglas’s talk show and said something about it…after that the tapping stopped. He could hear clicks on the phone….and it was confirmed he was being tapped.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I still do…like I said…he tried to kick out Chaplin and Lennon… They practically did on Chaplin

        Like

  2. I’m a big fan of this flick… I got into silent movies when I was a kid. Mostly though them being shown on TV at the weekend. Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, Fatty… loads of good stuff there. Anyhoo, like you say, while this doesn’t paint a full picture, I think it’s a perfect introduction to the life of Chaplin.

    Liked by 2 people

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