Chaplin and Agee: The Untold Story of the Tramp, the Writer, and the Lost Screenplay

Overview

Chaplin and Agee charts the friendship between James Agee, author of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and Pulitzer Prize-winning A Death in the Family and screenwriter for American classics including The African Queen, and Charlie Chaplin, who starred in a staggering number of films from 1914 to 1967. This friendship emerged in the midst of the tumult of the 1940s and 1950s, with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, McCarthyism and blacklisting. In print here for the first time is Agee's first screenplay, ...

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Overview

Chaplin and Agee charts the friendship between James Agee, author of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and Pulitzer Prize-winning A Death in the Family and screenwriter for American classics including The African Queen, and Charlie Chaplin, who starred in a staggering number of films from 1914 to 1967. This friendship emerged in the midst of the tumult of the 1940s and 1950s, with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, McCarthyism and blacklisting. In print here for the first time is Agee's first screenplay, The Tramp's New World, lost until recently. The striking screenplay—a comedy "so dark it was without precedent"—was written for Chaplin's tramp character and set in post-apocalyptic New York. Chaplin and Agee also features many previously unpublished letters and photographs. As the story moves from Hollywood to Greenwich Village, these two figures come to life, revealing the untold story of the great bond between two influential twentieth-century artists.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Chaplin and Agee was recently declared a finalist for the 2005 Theatre Librarian Association Award honoring the most outstanding book in recorded or broadcast performance, including film, television or radio.

"A true page-turner"—David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"A real addition to film culture (and the culture of the Cold War), complete with the treatment for an unmade movie so vivid that it practically sears the mind's eye."—J. Hoberman, Village Voice

"John Wranovics revives...a whole lost age, full of emigre intellectuals, hard-drinking Greenwich Village authors and a number of quite surprising villains."—Stephen Whitty, Star-Ledger and Newhouse Newspapers

"Wranovics does an excellent job of bringing Agee, and his times and his politics, to life. Even those not particularly interested in the novelist will find it an absorbing enough read. Those who are interested in the era, and scholars of Agee and Chaplin, will find the book to be a small treasure."—BookReporter.com

William Georgiades
The spirit of James Agee comes through these pages beautifully, as do his passions -- against nuclear war, HUAC and Hollywood fluff in general, and for his friends and his work. He was an unkempt man who cared nothing for his appearance; he was married three times and took more than a few lovers. The intensity of his letters, memos, story ideas and notes alone makes for fascinating and often moving reading. But it was his complete devotion to Chaplin that seems to have given him the most satisfaction, and the possibility of Chaplin's producing his script, the most hope. Agee cared less about commercial gain than about making an important film with one of his childhood idols.
— The New York Times
Library Journal
Film critic James Agee's unabashed hero worship of Charlie Chaplin is obvious to any reader of his work of collected criticism, Agee on Film, or the preface to his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Death in the Family. Rare for his time, Agee championed film as the most important art form of the 20th century and, according to first-time author Wranovics, felt that in his sympathetic portrayals of the everyman, Chaplin's "little tramp" "represented the fully human individual, uncorrupted by technology and politics." This book tells the story of Chaplin and Agee's unlikely friendship, forged via letters, and their personal trials and tribulations. In most ways, the two men were temperamental opposites: Chaplin was precise and fastidious in his personal habits, while Agee was notoriously sloppy and seemingly oblivious to his physical and financial well-being. The author highlights some fascinating, little-known vignettes, but the narrative seems padded even at its brief length; Agee and Chaplin's stories are never fully merged in a satisfactory manner. Including a heretofore unpublished screenplay by Agee, this book is a strong optional purchase for academic film and literary collections.-Stephen Rees, Levittown P.L., PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403973030
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 5/14/2006
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.71 (w) x 8.87 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

John Wranovics is a Director of Marketing for a leading electronics and computing manufacturer who has written for The Boston Book Review. He lives in Pleasanton, California.

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