The Best Movies Directed by Charlie Chaplin, and Biography

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15.The Rink

Charlie Chaplin, Eric Campbell

Released: 1916

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin, Edward Brewer

After amusements working in a restaurant, Charlie uses his lunch break to go roller skating. Mr. Stout makes advances toward the unwilling Edna (whose father and Mrs. Stout had earlie..

14.Limelight

Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton

Released: 1952

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

Limelight is a 1952 comedy-drama film written, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin, co-starring Claire Bloom, with an appearance by Buster Keaton. In dance scenes, Bloom is doubled..

13.Mabel’s Married Life

Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand

Released: 1914

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

Mabel’s Married Life is an American comedy silent film made by Keystone Studios starring and co-written by Charles Chaplin and Mabel Normand, and directed by Chaplin. As was so often the..

12.The Fireman

Charlie Chaplin, Lloyd Bacon

Released: 1916

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin, Edward Brewer

The Fireman is the second film Charlie Chaplin created for Mutual Film Corporation in 1916. Released on June 12, it starred Chaplin as the fireman and Edna Purviance as the daughter to..

11.One A.M.

Charlie Chaplin

Released: 1917

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin, Edward Brewer

One A.M. was a unique Charlie Chaplin silent film created for Mutual Film in 1916. It was the first film he starred in alone, except for a brief scene of Albert Austin playing a cab driver…

10.The Count

Charlie Chaplin, Eric Campbell

Released: 1916

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin, Edward Brewer

The Count is Charlie Chaplin’s fifth film for Mutual Film Corporation in 1916. Released on September 4, it co-starred Eric Campbell and Edna Purviance..

9.The Cure

Charlie Chaplin, Eric Campbell

Released: 1917

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin, Edward Brewer

The Cure is a 1917 short comedy film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin..

8.The Champion

Charlie Chaplin, Ben Turpin

Released: 1915

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

The Champion is a comedy film released in 1915 by Essanay Studios, starring Charles Chaplin alongside Edna Purviance and Leo White. Essanay co-owner and star, Broncho Billy Anderson..

7.The Circus

Charlie Chaplin, Albert Austin

Released: 1928

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

The Circus is a 1928 silent film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin with Joseph Plunkett as an uncredited writer. The film stars Chaplin, Al Ernest Garcia, Merna Kennedy, Harry Crocker..

6.The Gold Rush

Charlie Chaplin, Mack Swain

Released: 1925

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

The Gold Rush is a 1925 American silent comedy film written, produced, and directed by Charlie Chaplin. The film also stars Chaplin in his Little Tramp persona, Georgia Hale, Mack Swain, Tom..

5.The Kid

Charlie Chaplin, Lita Grey

Released: 1921

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

The Kid is a 1921 American silent comedy-drama film written by, produced by, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin, and features Jackie Coogan as his adopted son and sidekick. This was..

4.The Immigrant

Charlie Chaplin, William Gillespie

Released: 1917

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

The Immigrant is a 1917 American silent romantic comedy short film. The film stars the Charlie Chaplin Tramp character as an immigrant coming to the United States who is accused of theft..

3.The Great Dictator

Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard

Released: 1940

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

The Great Dictator is a 1940 American satirical political comedy-drama film starring, written, produced, scored, and directed by Charlie Chaplin, following the tradition of many of his other..

2.City Lights

Charlie Chaplin, Jean Harlow

Released: 1931

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

City Lights is a 1931 American romantic comedy film written by, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin. The story follows the misadventures of Chaplin’s Tramp as he falls in love with a blind..

Modern Times

Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard

Released: 1936

Directed by: Charlie Chaplin

Modern Times is a 1936 comedy film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin in which his iconic Little Tramp character struggles to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a..

Charlie Chaplin

Biography

(1889–1977)
Charlie Chaplin worked with a children’s dance troupe before making his mark on the big screen. His character “The Tramp” relied on pantomime and quirky movements to become an iconic figure of the silent-film era. Chaplin went on to become a director, making films such as City Lights and Modern Times, and co-founded the United Artists Corporation.

Famous for his character “The Tramp,” the sweet little man with a bowler hat, mustache and cane, Charlie Chaplin was an iconic figure of the silent-film era and was one of film’s first superstars, elevating the industry in a way few could have ever imagined.

Born Charles Spencer Chaplin in London, England, on April 16, 1889, Chaplin’s rise to fame is a true rags-to-riches story. His father, a notorious drinker, abandoned Chaplin, his mother and his older half-brother, Sydney, not long after Chaplin’s birth. That left Chaplin and his brother in the hands of their mother, a vaudevillian and music hall singer who went by the stage name Lily Harley.

Chaplin’s mother, who would later suffer severe mental issues and have to be committed to an asylum, was able to support her family for a few years. But in a performance that would introduce her youngest boy to the spotlight, Hannah inexplicably lost her voice in the middle of a show, prompting the production manager to push the five-year-old Chaplin, whom he’d heard sing, onto the stage to replace her.

Chaplin lit up the audience, wowing them with his natural presence and comedic angle (at one point he imitated his mother’s cracking voice). But the episode meant the end for Hannah. Her singing voice never returned, and she eventually ran out of money. For a time, Chaplin and Sydney had to make a new, temporary home for themselves in London’s tough workhouses.

Armed with his mother’s love of the stage, Chaplin was determined to make it in show business himself, and in 1897, using his mother’s contacts, he landed with a clog-dancing troupe named the Eight Lancashire Lads. It was a short stint, and not a terribly profitable one, forcing the go-getter Chaplin to make ends meet any way he could.

In 1914, Chaplin made his film debut in a somewhat forgettable one-reeler called Make a Living. To differentiate himself from the clad of other actors in Sennett films, Chaplin decided to play a single identifiable character, and “The Little Tramp” was born, with audiences getting their first taste of him in Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914).

Over the next year, Chaplin appeared in 35 movies, a lineup that included Tillie’s Punctured Romance, film’s first full-length comedy. In 1915, Chaplin left Sennett to join the Essanay Company, which agreed to pay him $1,250 a week. It is with Essanay that Chaplin, who by this time had hired his brother Sydney to be his business manager, rose to stardom.

During his first year with the company, Chaplin made 14 films, including The Tramp (1915). Generally regarded as the actor’s first classic, the story establishes Chaplin’s character as the unexpected hero when he saves the farmer’s daughter from a gang of robbers.

By the age of 26, Chaplin, just three years removed from his vaudeville days, was a superstar. He’d moved over to the Mutual Company, which paid him a whopping $670,000 a year. The money made Chaplin a wealthy man, but it didn’t seem to derail his artistic drive. With Mutual, he made some of his best work, including One A.M. (1916), The Rink (1916), The Vagabond (1916) and Easy Street (1917).

Through his work, Chaplin came to be known as a grueling perfectionist. His love for experimentation often meant countless takes, and it was not uncommon for him to order the rebuilding of an entire set. Nor was it uncommon for him to begin filming with one leading actor, realize he’d made a mistake in his casting and start again with someone new.

But the results were hard to refute. During the 1920s Chaplin’s career blossomed even more. During the decade he made some landmark films, including The Kid (1921), The Pilgrim (1923), A Woman in Paris (1923), The Gold Rush (1925), a movie Chaplin would later say he wanted to be remembered by, and The Circus (1928). The latter three were released by United Artists, a company Chaplin co-founded in 1919 with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D.W. Griffith.

Chaplin kept creating interesting and engaging films in the 1930s. In 1931, he released City Lights, a critical and commercial success that incorporated music Chaplin scored himself.

More acclaim came with Modern Times (1936), a biting commentary about the state of the world’s economic and political infrastructures. The film, which did incorporate sound, was, in part, the result of an 18-month world tour Chaplin had taken between 1931 and 1932, a trip during which he’d witnessed severe economic angst and a sharp rise in nationalism in Europe and elsewhere.

Chaplin spoke even louder in The Great Dictator (1940), which pointedly ridiculed the governments of Hitler and Mussolini. “I want to see the return of decency and kindness,” Chaplin said around the time of the film’s release. “I’m just a human being who wants to see this country a real democracy . . .”

But Chaplin was not universally embraced. His romantic liaisons led to his rebuke by some women’s groups, which in turn led to him being barred from entering some U.S. states. As the Cold War age settled into existence, Chaplin didn’t withhold his fire from injustices he saw taking place in the name of fighting Communism in his adopted country of the United States.

Chaplin soon became a ta rget of the right-wing conservatives. Representative John E. Rankin of Mississippi pushed for his deportation. In 1952, the Attorney General of the United States obliged when he announced that Chaplin, who was sailing to Britain on vacation, would not permit him to return to the United States unless he could prove “moral worth.” The incensed Chaplin said good-bye to the United States and took up residence on a small farm in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland.

Nearing the end of his life, Chaplin did make one last visit to the United States in 1972, when he was given an honorary Academy Award. The trip came just five years after Chaplin’s final film, A Countess from Hong Kong (1967), the filmmaker’s first and only color movie. Despite a cast that included Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando, the film did poorly at the box office. In 1975, Chaplin received further recognition when he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

In the early morning hours of December 25, 1977, Chaplin died at his home in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. His wife, Oona, and seven of his children were at his bedside at the time of his passing. In a twist that might very well have come out of one of his films, Chaplin’s body was stolen not long after he was buried from his grave near Lake Geneva in Switzerland by two men who demanded $400,000 for its return. The men were arrested and Chaplin’s body was recovered 11 weeks later.

 

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