Russell mentions Charlie's conversations with H.G. Wells on the subject of Russia, and references Chaplin's autobiography. In Russell's words, "In his autobiography, Chaplin is frank enough to leave in the recollection of a conversation with H.G. Wells, whose fears of dictatorship and the suppression of civil liberties in Russia are dismissed by Chaplin as growing pains or tactical 'mistakes' not to be compared in grossness with the repudiation of foreign lands."
Given our times now, in 2022, of controversial political positions and conflicts, I thought it would be interesting to hear what Chaplin had to say about Russia in 1935, inspired by comments of Wells.
This is from Chaplin's "My Autobiography." Charlie had spent time with Wells in London in 1931, a trip for the opening of "City Lights." They maintained the friendship. This is an excerpt from Chaplin's book.
"When Wells visited visited me in 1935 in California, I took him to task about his criticism of Russia. I had read of his disparaging reports, so I wanted a firsthand account and was surprised to find him almost bitter about it.
'But is it not too early to judge?' I argued. 'They have had a difficult task, opposition and conspiracy from within and from without. Surely in time, good results should follow?'"
At that time Wells was enthusiastic about what Roosevelt had accomplished with the New Deal, and was of the opinion that a quasi-socialism in America would come out of a dying capitalism. He seemed especially critical of Stalin, whom he had interviewed, and said that under his rule Russia had become tyrannical dictatorship.
Charlie continues. "Of course Russia has made mistakes," I said, "and like other nations she will continue to do so. The biggest one, I think, was the repudiation of her foreign loans, Russian bonds, etcetera, and call them the Czar's debts after the Revolution."
Charlie has more to say, at least in his recollection of the conversation, some twenty years later. We all know that Chaplin became fascinated by world politics, especially events in Russia, which eventually caused him a great deal of trouble with Congress and the American public.
But there is one more quote I want to end this with. It's non-political, and is revealing about Chaplin. Again, from his Autobiography:
"Elsewhere I have said that sex will be mentioned but not stressed, as I can add nothing new to the subject. However, procreation is nature's principal occupation, and every man, whether he be young or old, when meeting any woman, measures the potentiality of sex between them. Thus is has always been with me.
"During work, women never interested me; it was only between pictures, when I had nothing to do, that I was vulnerable. As H.G. Wells said, 'There comes a moment in the day when you have written your pages in the morning, attended to your correspondence in the afternoon, and have nothing further to do. Then comes that hour when you are bored; that's the time for sex.'"
There you have it. A visit with Chaplin and Wells, and a wide ranging discussion on more than politics.