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Charlie Chaplin's Red Letter Days: At Work with the Comic Genius

Charlie Chaplin's Red Letter Days: At Work with the Comic Genius


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By the end of 1914, Charlie Chaplin had become the most popular actor in films, and reporters were clamoring for interviews with the comedy sensation. But no reporter had more access than Fred Goodwins. A British actor who joined Chaplin's stock company in early 1915, Goodwins began writing short accounts of life at the studio and submitted them to publications. In February 1916 the British magazine Red Letter published the first of what became a series of more than thirty-five of Goodwins's articles. Written in breezy prose, the articles cover a two-year period during which Chaplin's popularity and creativity reached new heights. Only one copy of the complete series is known to exist, and its recent rediscovery marks a significant find for Chaplin fans.

Charlie Chaplin's Red Letter Days: At Work with the Comic Genius is a vivid account of the ebb and flow of life at the Chaplin studio. Goodwins was an astute observer who deepens our understanding of Chaplin's artistry and sheds new light on his personality. He also provides charming and revealing portraits of Chaplin's unsung collaborators, such as his beloved costar Edna Purviance, his burly nemesis Eric Campbell, and other familiar faces that populate his films. Goodwins depicts Chaplin in the white heat of artistic creation, an indefatigable imp entertaining and inspiring the company on the set. He also describes gloomy, agonizing periods when Chaplin was paralyzed with indecision or exhaustion, or simply frustrated that it was raining and they couldn't shoot.

Reproduced here for the first time, the articles have been edited by film historian David James and annotated by Chaplin expert Dan Kamin to highlight their revelations. Illustrated with a selection of rare images that reflect the Chaplin craze, including posters, sheet music, and magazine covers, Charlie Chaplin's Red Letter Days provides a fascinating excursion into the private world of the iconic superstar whose films move and delight audiences to this day. It will appeal to movie fans, comedy buffs, and anyone who wants to know what really went on behind the scenes with Chaplin and his crew.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442278080
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 04/15/2017
Pages: 338
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Fred Goodwins (1891–1923) was a former New York Times London correspondent who became an actor, writer, and director during the silent film era.

David James is a film historian and senior lecturer in film and media studies at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom.

Dan Kamin created the physical comedy sequences for Chaplin and Benny and Joon and trained Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp for their acclaimed performances. He is the author of The Comedy of Charlie Chaplin (Scarecrow Press, 2008).

Table of Contents

Introduction: Red Letter Days vii

1 Charlie's "Last" Film 1

2 Charlie Has to "Flit" from His Studio 14

3 Charlie Chaplin Sends His Famous Moustache to the Red Letter 22

4 Charlie Chaplin's "Lost Sheep" 31

5 How Charlie Chaplin Got His £300-a-Week Salary 39

6 A Straw Hat and a Puff of Wind 51

7 A Bombshell That Put Charlie Chaplin "on His Back" 58

8 When Charlie Chaplin Cried Like a Kid 68

9 Excitement Runs High When Charlie Chaplin "Comes Home" 73

10 Charlie "On the Job" Again 73

11 Rehearsing for The Floorwalker 85

12 Charlie Chaplin Talks of Other Days 93

13 Celebrating Charlie Chaplin's Birthday 100

14 Charlie's Wireless Message to Edna 108

15 Charlie Poses for The Fireman 115

16 Charlie Chaplin's Love for His Mother 124

17 Chaplin's Success in The Floorwalker 132

18 A Chaplin Rehearsal Isn't All Fun 141

19 Billy Helps to Entertain the Ladies 149

20 "Do I Look Worried?" 157

21 Playing the Part of Half a Cow! 167

22 Twelve O'clock-Charlie's One-Man Show 174

23 "Speak Out Your Parts," Says Charlie 183

24 Charlie's Doings Up to Date 190

25 Charlie in a Gay Mood 197

26 How Charlie Works His Gags 202

27 The Chaplin Boys' Beano 209

28 An Accident in the Chaplin Studios 218

29 Charlie Chaplin, Syd, and a Football 225

30 New Chaplin Film a "Howling" Success 232

31 The Rough End of "Movie" Work 238

32 One Hundred Thousand Guineas for Chaplin Films 244

33 Charlie's Great Pie-Slinging Scene 250

34 Charlie Gets Busy with Behind the Screen 256

35 A Hustle against Time in the Chaplin Studio 262

36 A Racy Account of The Rink 265

37 A Million-Dollar Contract and Easy Street 277

And Then … 287

Appendix A Charlie Chaplin's New Contract: Record Salary and One Film a Month 289

Appendix B Charlie Conducts Sousa's Band 293

Appendix C His Doings in New York 297

Notes 307

Index 321

About the Contributors 329

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