Synopses & Reviews
In late 1914, Charlie Chaplin's name first began appearing on marquees. By the end of the following year, moviegoers couldn't get enough of him and his iconic persona, the Little Tramp. Perpetually outfitted with baggy pants, a limp cane, and a dusty bowler hat, the character became so beloved that Chaplin was mobbed by fans, journalists, and critics at every turn.
Although he never particularly liked giving interviews, he accepted the demands of his stardom, giving detailed responses about his methods of making movies. He quickly progressed from making two-reel shorts to feature-length masterpieces such as The Gold Rush, City Lights, and Modern Times.
Charlie Chaplin: Interviews offers a complex portrait of perhaps the world's greatest cinematic comedian and a man who is considered to be one of the most influential screen artists in movie history. The interviews he granted, performances in and of themselves, are often as well crafted as his films. Unlike the Little Tramp, Chaplin the interviewee comes across as melancholy and serious, as the titles of some early interviews---"Beneath the Mask: Witty, Wistful, Serious Is the Real Charlie" or "The Hamlet-Like Nature of Charlie Chaplin"---make abundantly clear.
His first sound feature, The Great Dictator, is a direct condemnation of Hitler. His later films such as Monsieur Verdoux and Limelight obliquely criticize American policy and consequently generated mixed reactions from critics and little response from moviegoers. During this late period of his filmmaking, Chaplin granted interviews less often. The three later interviews included here are thus extremely valuable, offering long, contemplative analyses of the man's life and work.
"Silent cinema star Chaplin was a visual genius. He spoke in images, not words, which may explain his discomfort with reporters as well as why this book of interviews is a mixed bag. Hayes, an English professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, mined the more thoughtful interviews Chaplin gave between 1915 and 1967. They reveal his philosophies of filmmaking, his artistic spontaneity and his love of character over plot. Hayes minimizes the controversies that surrounded Chaplin his marriages and his politics and focuses on his aesthetic. The collection opens with a 1915 Motion Picture Magazine article that details his move to Essanay studio in order to write, direct and star, and ends with Chaplin's comments on his 1967 critical failure, The Countess from Hong Kong. Each decade of Chaplin's career is dutifully noted, and interesting tidbits abound, such as the inspiration for The Little Tramp's iconic walk and mustache. But the book's drawback is pronounced: the repetitive nature of celebrity interviews is such that almost every entry describes Chaplin's poverty-stricken childhood and his training in Fred Karno's vaudeville troupe. There are gems Bosley Crowther's 1960 New York Times Magazine article is the most succinct and affords an insightful overview of Chaplin's life and career but readers have to work to find them." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Collected interviews with one of the masters of American filmmaking
A collection of interviews that offers a complex portrait of perhaps the world's greatest cinematic comedian and a man who is considered to be one of the most influential screen artists in movie history
About the Author
Kevin J. Hayes is a professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma. His previous books include Poe and the Printed Word, Folklore and Book Culture, and An American Cycling Odyssey, 1887, among others. He has been published in Film Criticism, Literature/Film Quarterly, Cinema Journal, and other periodicals.