Trivia / Charlie Chaplin

  • Copiously Credited Creator: wrote, directed, produced, starred in, and composed the music for many of his films.
  • The Danza: His characters usually have No Name Given, so all the audience can call him is Charlie. Or The Tramp. Or Charlot.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Chaplin started out as a player with Mack Sennett's studio before becoming mega-popular and striking out on his own. Ultimately, after leaving Sennett the only films in which he didn't both direct and star were a handful of films that starred somebody else.
  • Doing It for the Art: Chaplin was notorious as being a maddeningly perfectionist filmmaker. For instance, he made his leading lady, Edna Purviance, do so many takes eating beans that she was physically ill. To his credit, Chaplin was even rougher on himself; he did his famous boot eating scene in The Gold Rush so many times that he had to go to the hospital afterward.
  • Follow the Leader: Many comedians have been inspired by Chaplin's style. Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd also started incorporating tragedy in their comedies, but you can feel Chaplin's influence in the works of Walt Disney too.
  • I Am Not Spock: Despite what many people think, Chaplin looked and acted almost nothing like The Tramp in real life. To start with, that mustache was fake.
  • Limey Goes to Hollywood: Probably the original example.
  • Missing Episode:
    • Her Friend The Bandit (1914).
    • A Woman of the Sea, directed by him in 1926 but in which he did not appears, is also lost; due to legal problems Chaplin was facing at the time, he was not allowed to release the film. In 1933, Chaplin himself was forced to destroy the only known copies of the film and its negative.
  • No Stunt Double
  • Playing Against Type:
    • As The Bluebeard Serial Killer in Monsieur Verdoux.
    • Directing Against Type with A Woman of Paris, in which Charlie took a break from doing slapstick comedies in which he also starred, and instead directed an entirely serious romantic drama in which he had only a brief cameo. The idea was to establish his former comic leading lady Edna Purviance as a dramatic actress. It failed, and Purviance retired from film shortly thereafter.
  • Production Posse:
    • Eric Campbell played the bad guy in 11 of Chaplin's 12 short films with Mutual and probably would have done more with Chaplin if he hadn't been killed in a car accident in 1917.
    • Edna Purviance made her film debut in in 1915 with A Night Out, Chaplin's second movie after leaving Mack Sennett, and played the Love Interest and/or female lead in almost every picture Chaplin made for the next eight years. He also attempted to help her launch a dramatic acting career, without success. Often considered Chaplin's true soulmate, even though they never married, Chaplin kept her on his payroll for the rest of her life.
    • Henry Bergman joined Chaplin's company in 1916 and worked with Charlie both onscreen and in production for the next 24 years.
    • Roland Totherot was Charlie's cinematographer for 32 years, 1915-1947 (and got a "photographic consultant" credit for Limelight in 1952).
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • Chaplin ended up marrying a startling number of the women he co-starred with, divorcing them soon after.
    • Chaplin's son, Michael Chaplin, plays the precocious Rupert Macabee in A King in New York.
    • Chaplin's son, Sydney Chaplin, has an important role in Limelight.
    • Two of Chaplin's best known films - The Great Dictator and Modern Times - star Paulette Goddard, who was either living with him or married to him at the time.
    • Ironically, his longest lasting marriage was to someone he never appeared on screen with, Oona O'Neill.
    • Chaplin's nephew was Spencer Dryden, the drummer of Jefferson Airplane during its classic line-up.
  • Romance on the Set: Practically every film he made from 1915 to 1940, with the exception of City Lights.
  • The Shelf of Movie Languishment: Limelight sat on the shelf in the US for two decades due to accusations of his being a communist sympathizer (it was released in the UK and elsewhere without issue). It was eventually released in the US 1972.
  • Urban Legend of Zelda: Supposedly, in the film The Circus, a "time traveller" is seen speaking into a cell phone, which would be impossible for the time period. The person in question does not actually appear in the film itself, but rather the film's trailer. Also, those who have inspected the situation have said the mysterious individual is likely holding up an old-fashioned hearing aid, not a cell phone.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Chaplin never used scripts when making his movies—his films would always be made by constant trial and error at his own expense, focusing on the personality of the characters rather than the story. Even his features only used a little pre-planning for the story, but no fully written scripts. The one exception was Monsieur Verdoux which had a script by Orson Welles, Chaplin rewrote it to fit his interests, but otherwise retained Welles' structure.
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