Essential Chaplin: Perspectives on the Life and Art of the Great Comedian

Essential Chaplin: Perspectives on the Life and Art of the Great Comedian

by Richard Schickel
     
 

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At age twenty-eight, Charlie Chaplin was a millionaire and one of the world's most famous personalities. He had grown rich playing the poorest of men. He was to go on playing unforgettable characters in timeless films, but now the psychology of celebrity began both to drive and to damage his creativity. Richard Schickel, the distinguished film critic, has called

Overview

At age twenty-eight, Charlie Chaplin was a millionaire and one of the world's most famous personalities. He had grown rich playing the poorest of men. He was to go on playing unforgettable characters in timeless films, but now the psychology of celebrity began both to drive and to damage his creativity. Richard Schickel, the distinguished film critic, has called Chaplin the first victim of modern celebrity culture, “driven by his relentless ego, by his helpless need for an audience to dominate, to lead. All the tragedies of his life stemmed from those drives and needs.” Mr. Schickel is the rarest of Chaplin enthusiasts, an unabashed fan who can celebrate the object of his affection without looking away when his subject deserves a poking. In this indispensable collection of some thirty essays, he has selected the most provocative and insightful criticisms of Chaplin's life and work, from the great comedian's beginnings through his early features, his mid-life crisis, and his late films. The contributors include Andrew Sarris, David Thomson, Andre Bazin, Gilbert Seldes, Alistair Cooke, Frances Hackett, Robert E. Sherwood, Stark Young, Penelope Gilliatt, Edmund Wilson, Stanley Kauffmann, Alexander Woollcott, George Jean Nathan, Winston Churchill, Max Eastman, Graham Greene, Otis Ferguson, James Agee, Dwight Macdonald, Robert Warshow, Walter Kerr, J. Hoberman, and others. Mr. Schickel, the last critic to study Chaplin intensively (for his award-winning documentary of a year ago), offers a long Introduction.

Editorial Reviews

Choice
Collectively...insightful and thorough....this volume is a must
Midwest Book Review
"[These] essays...deserve ongoing recommendation and mention for any Chaplin fan, whether newcomer or seasoned."
California Bookwatch
"Nearly thirty essays from film critic Richard Schickel deserve ongoing recommendation and mention for any Chaplin fan, whether newcomer or seasoned...an analysis of genius and methods rather than films alone, and one which holds up well against movie reviewer surveys or biographies alone."
CHOICE
Collectively...insightful and thorough....this volume is a must
The Wall Street Journal
The Essential Chaplin stresses the significance of Charlie’s oeuvre and directs the audience to its most hilarious films.
News-Sentinel - Ina Hughes
A wonderfully put-together overview of Chaplin's life and art.
The New York Observer - Scott Eyman
[An] intrinsically valuable new anthology.
Los Angeles Times - Marc Weingarten
The best pieces in this collection...are the ones that leaven admiration with healthy cynicism.
American Society of Cinematographers - Jim Hempill
One of the finest English-language pieces on Chaplin ever written....The seminal text on the comedian.
Virginia Quarterly Review - Robert Jackson
The book's best feature is its organized cacophony, its trace of this astonishingly long and rich body of work and personal travail....There is much to savor in these essays.
Virginia Quarterly Review
The book's best feature is its organized cacophony….also [serves] as a worthy companion to a reader's return to Chaplin's films.
New York Observer
[An] intrinsically valuable new anthology
Library Journal
This book provides both film novices and scholars with an intriguing new examination of comedy legend Charlie Chaplin. Edited and with a detailed and insightful introduction by noted film critic Schickel (Good Morning, Mr. Zip Zip Zip), this collection of some 30 essays by such renowned figures as journalist Alistair Cooke, film critics Dilys Powell and Andr Bazin, statesman Winston Churchill, and novelist Graham Greene offers a fascinating look into Chaplin's life and oeuvre. Each of the book's six sections explores a different period in the silent film star's career, from his earliest days to his latest features. Written by both his contemporaries and those who came of age after his golden era had passed, The Essential Chaplin is an essential read for anyone mesmerized by the history of film, the cult of celebrity, or the life of the f ted comedian. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.-Teri Shiel, Broome Cty. P.L., Binghamton, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-A fascinating compilation. The range of writers of these 33 selections is amazingly wide, and the whole reads as an overview of professional critics and the evolution of the genre. Among the who's who are Andrew Sarris, Alistair Cooke, Robert E. Sherwood, Alexander Woollcott, Winston Churchill, Graham Greene, and James Agee; several others, such as Sigmund Freud, are quoted. Chaplin made 82 films, and his work is broken up into six categories in this book. For good or bad, every idea in his productions was his own, and he insisted on creating every aspect of his films himself. Most of the criticism that he received in his lifetime, and that he receives here, is that he should have expanded into areas beyond comedy and into more "literary" and "serious" films. This pressure caused critics' dissatisfaction with Chaplin's later work, leaving him embittered. For fans, this book is a must; it is also valuable as a study of expository and critical writing.-Dana Cobern-Kullman, Luther Burbank Middle School, Burbank, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Wall Street Journal
The Essential Chaplin stresses the significance of Charlie’s oeuvre and directs the audience to its most hilarious films.
The New York Observer
[An] intrinsically valuable new anthology.
— Scott Eyman
Los Angeles Times
The best pieces in this collection...are the ones that leaven admiration with healthy cynicism.
— Marc Weingarten
American Society Of Cinematographers
One of the finest English-language pieces on Chaplin ever written....The seminal text on the comedian.
— Jim Hempill
News-Sentinel
A wonderfully put-together overview of Chaplin's life and art.
— Ina Hughes

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781566637015
Publisher:
Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
Publication date:
07/25/2006
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,221,368
Product dimensions:
5.74(w) x 8.66(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Richard Schickel, longtime film critic for Time magazine, also contributes regularly to the Los Angeles Times. He has written biographies of Clint Eastwood, Marlon Brando, James Cagney, D. W. Griffith, Cary Grant, and Walt Disney, as well as Matinee Idylls, The Men Who Made the Movies, Intimate Strangers, Woody Allen, and a memoir, Good Morning, Mr. Zip Zip Zip. His most recent book is a highly praised biography of Elia Kazan. He lives in Los Angeles.

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