Friday, February 15, 2019

New Solo Recording of Chaplin's Music

An idea whose time has come. If not overdue.
A new recording by a gifted violinist has just been released. I am attaching a link to the article that appeared on the San Francisco Classical Voice website. It's well written by a person who obviously holds Chaplin and his music in high esteem. I've attached a link to Philippe Quint's comments and portions of "Smile".
Enjoy. And order the CD.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Charlie and Stanley - At The Beginning

With the recent release of "Stan and Ollie" - an excellent film starring John C. Reilly and Steve Coogan - I wanted to see what Stanley (Jefferson, at the time) had said about Chaplin. They were both in Fred Karno's company when they arrived from England to tour the United States beginning in 1910. 
Here's what Stanley said: "We had a lot of fun in those days. Charlie and I roomed together and I can still see him playing the violin or cello to cover the noise of the cooking of bacon I was doing on the gas ring, forbidden of course. Then we'd both take towels and try and blow the smoke out of the window."
Charlie, of course, was hired by Mack Sennett in 1914 and went on to worldwide stardom. Stanley, who shortly thereafter changed his name to Stan Laurel, also achieved a world-wide audience, with Oliver "Babe" Hardy, though never one that equalled Chaplin.

Here are two pictures of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel when they were traveling the U.S. with the Fred Karno company. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Charlie and Chasen's

One of the most popular restaurants of "Old Hollywood" was Chasen's. It was at 9039 Beverly Boulevard on the edge of Beverly Hills. Chasen's opened in 1936 and closed its fabled doors in 1995.
Charlie Chaplin was among the many stars who frequented it. A collector in LA had several memorable items connected with old Hollywood restaurants. Among them was a match-book cover signed by Charlie. 

My son found it and gave it to me several years ago on Charlie's birthday. I'd love to know the story behind it...whose was it? When was this signed? Did Charlie say anything? What did he have for dinner? Who was he with? What car was he driving? 
One can only imagine.

Here is a link to a short YouTube video about Chasen's and other iconic Hollywood restaurants. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Charlie's 1936 Packard Twelve For Sale

I just learned that this fabulous Packard, which was owned for awhile by Charlie Chaplin, is for sale. It's at a vintage collector's dealer here in St. Louis. It's yours for only $139,900. If I had that kind of money, I'd buy some extra for the insurance.
I plan to go to the dealer's as soon as we get past the holidays freezing weather and take an in-person look at it.
Here's a link.

One thing for sure: Charlie had good taste in automobiles. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

40 Years Ago on Christmas Day

On Christmas Day of 1977, I was sitting on the floor of our home at #6 Westwood Forest, playing with my two kids, Holly and Gregg. We had just finished opening all the presents, the living room floor was strewn with shreds of colorful wrapping paper, ribbons, to/from cards, empty boxes. The phone rang. Mary Lee answered it, then came in and told me, "It's your mom." That was how I learned that Charlie had died. Mom knew of my love of Chaplin, frequently bought me Chaplin things: a painting, a book, a magazine.

Yes, Charlie Chaplin had died in Vevey, Switzerland, at his home at Manoir de Ban. You probably know the story as well as I do. This is simply a fond remembrance of his life, films and legacy on this day.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Here are some more observations by Charlie's favorite cinematographer, Roland Totheroh. This is from an interview he did with Timothy Lyons in Film Culture in 1972. Chaplin was an undisciplined film maker, but maybe that's what went into his genius.

Roland Totheroh:
"Pretty near everything prior to The Great Dictator was ad lib. He didn't have a script at the time, didn't have a script girl or anything like that, and he never checked whether the scene wasin itsright place or that continuity was followed. The scriptwould develop as it went along. A lot of times after we saw the dailies the next morning, if it didn't warrant what he thought the expectation was, he'd put in some other sort of a sequence and work on that instead of going through with what he started out to do... In a lot of his old pictures, he'd make that separation by using titles about the time: 'next day' or 'the following day' or 'that night' - these would cover the script gaps in-between.

"He didn't want people to think that he didn't know what he was doing. He'd turn around and think overnight. 'Jesus Criminy, this is what I should have done. I didn't do it.' Now he'd dismissed all the people and had sets torn down. But, it was his own money, so what the deveil - 'Call the people.' He'd look for some excuse, something wrong, somebody else to be at fault for it; he'd have to call them down. You'd breakany company the way he'd shoot. Of course, it was his own money. But the way he shot the scene over and over he'd wear out all the actors and actresses. But he was patient with everyone who was acting. Even though, he'd confuse them by doing something so many times and so many different ways, they got so they didn't know which way they'd done it at any one time. Lydia Knott in Woman of Paris - he wore her out. Finally she said, 'Oh, Mr. Chaplin, please tell me what I'm doing wrong and what you want. I'm worn out. I don't know what to do.' He said, 'You're doing all right, it's just some little thing I want you to do.'"

Rollie worked with Charlie from 1915 until 1947. He was an "advisor" on The Great Dictator," not an easy role for him, I'm sure. Rollie died in 1967.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Man Who Shot Charlie Chaplin

If you're a fan of Charlie, then you know the name Roland Totheroh and that he was Chaplin's principal cinematographer from 1916 to 1952. He was relegated to the position of advisor for the filming of "The Great Dictator" in 1939-40. Until then, he and Charlie worked together on over 30 films.

He died in 1967.

I recently came across an interview that Totheroh did with Timothy Lyons in Film Culture (1972).
Here is an excerpt from it, where he recounts how Charlie developed his ideas.

"When Charlie was working on an idea, often he would call me in. There were always a lot of his own people around. He'd hit on a certain situation where there was something he was building on and he'd want conversation more or less. And there'd always be someone there to write things down. Every time he'd speak, 'Put it down. Don't lose it. We'll go back to that, I'll lose my train of thought.'  He'd dictate so darn many things that, unless you're pretty clever and keep them in sequence, you could lose it easy.

"But the basic idea on all his films would often change; it did on pretty near everything we took. After running with the dailies, then he'd be inspired and it would give him another idea, another thought. If not, he'd throw it out and do it from another angle. sometimes after a set had been torn down, he'd get a new idea and we'd have to reconstruct the whole set exactly as it was before so that he could reshoot some shots for a scene."

So far, I have been unable to find a biography of Roland Totheroh. If it hasn't been written, then it certainly deserves to be.