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Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) - English Comic Genius, Filmmaker, and Composer - Best Known as "The Tramp"

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None of Charlie Chaplin's films seem dated.

Chaplin's Modern Times was clearly inspired by Metropolis (1927), but took the baton and launched into a full-fledged sprint with it.

The opening scene with pigs being herded, followed by people loading onto the subway, is not exactly an exercise in subtlety.

The "Billows Feeding Machine" clearly inspired the cruel, sadistic, "Pigs is Pigs" Porky Pig cartoon (1954) where Porky had a nightmare and was force-fed by a mad scientist (any obese child my age was affected by this). This early scene symbolizes the entire assembly-line scenario of "quicker is better, regardless of human cost" and is worth renting the movie just to see (it's in the first ten minutes).

It's also not hard to see why Chaplin was banished in 1952 for being a Communist, courtesy of our resident hypocrite, J. Edgar Hoover, whose Brutalist building downtown symbolizes him in many ways.

Not only did the Billows Machine inspire the Porky Pig cartoon, but the assembly line inspired the I Love Lucy episode "Job Switching" (1952) where she and Ethel are deluged while working at the chocolate factory.

And if that's not enough, the gears and clocks inspired the 2011 film Hugo.

Rest assured that during the 60-or-so years in between, many other films were inspired by this as well.

There is the artist, and then there is the man.  The Little Tramp and the Refugees Who Loved, Then Loathed Him, by Dove Barbanel, December 29, 2017, on nytimes.com.

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As it happens, I am sketching out a major essay on Chaplin, who was not only the most brilliant film director and actor in film history, but the most influential figure in the culture and Zeitgeist of the 20th Century; perhaps, for a single individual, in human history. Along with a handful of somewhat lesser lights, and I'm thinking particularly of Andy Warhol, he created modernity in the Western world.

Chaplin made only four films in which he spoke, the last of which, "A King in New York," was an unmitigated stinker, but my how he could speak, and what audacious and wonderful movies he made! In my essay to come, which I may publish here, I'll use as a focus and starting point "Monsieur Verdoux," my favorite of all his movies, but will discuss all of his talkies in some depth, and relate their qualities and properties to Chaplin's enormous influence on the wider world. I think it will be quite a ride, if only for myself. More on it to come.

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