On this day in 1889, Charlie Chaplin was born. I remember reading a quote from Woody Allen talking about how he preferred Chaplin’s films to Buster Keaton’s. And he admitted that Keaton made the better films. This is true. Chaplin’s films really do suck in terms of cinematic art. Basically, he just set up a camera and shot the whole scene in a medium shot. In other words: he was filming plays.
But I’m with Allen. I admire Keaton. But I almost never watch his films anymore. But I own both The Gold Rush and Modern Times. And just recently, I watched The Kid. And City Lights is an outstanding film. It’s not even that they are funny — even though they still make me laugh from time to time. They are just so sweet at the same time that they are subversive. The Little Tramp is not exactly a believer in the American Dream. He’s just trying to get by. America would do better if it stopped believing in the “American Dream,” because it’s pretty tattered at this point — more the American Myth.
Anyway, I don’t have much to say about Chaplin the man; the films are enough. And here is the whole 1971 re-released cut of The Kid, which is 15 minutes shorter than the original cut. I don’t know the film well enough to say what’s different. But I got twenty minutes into watching the video before I managed to pry myself away to finish this article.
Happy birthday Charlie Chaplin!