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.

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