Curated by Gary Meyer
Charles Chaplin might be the most recognizable person in the world. His iconic Little Tramp image can be found everywhere. I am guessing that more books have been written about him than any movie star.
One of the many beauties of his work is that they communicate with people who speak any language.
And on Saturday, February 19, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival presents Chaplin’s 1931 masterpiece, CITY LIGHTS accompanied by the Oakland Symphony under the direction of Timothy Brock, at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre. This is a must see experience for all ages.
Tickets and more information here. Purchasing them at the Paramount box office on Friday afternoon (noon to 5pm) or Saturday, starting two hours before the 7pm showtime will save you the Ticketmaster ticketing fee.
There are literally thousands of movie posters for his films and as we are focusing on his CITY LIGHTS. We thought it would be fun to see an international array of posters for the film. You will also find other images, links to stories about the film and clips. As a bonus we have the essential three-part documentary by Kevin Brownlow, THE UNKNOWN CHAPLIN in another article.
So sit back and enjoy. And why not listen to the original musical score while you wander?
“The day I completed my current picture City Lights was one of extreme relief. After fretting and stewing for almost two years, to see the end in sight was like the finish of a marathon. Usually after each picture I go to bed for a day or two to replenish my nerves, but this time there was another task ahead – the composing of music and synchronizing it to the picture”.
-Charlie Chaplin, Woman’s Home Companion, 1932
The Intimate Score of the Tramp-Composer: Restoring Music for City Lights.
An Interview with Timothy Brock
Silent Locations is the fascinating website created by John Bengston (author of Silent Traces, Silent Echoes, and Silent Visions) offering a look at the places where the great silent comedies of Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd were filmed. Take a tour of the CITY LIGHTS locations here.
You will see priceless images and information such as this photo from opening night and the Crossword puzzle from the Press Book (filled with promotional ideas)
And John leads you on a tour of Chaplin locations in the Bay Area when he made his classic two reelers at the Essanay Studios.
And speaking of the Essanay Studios in Niles (near Fremont, California, you will want to visit the Niles Essanay Silent Movie Museum. A lot of restoration work has been happening during the pandemic you can now visit the museum and the best classic movies book and gift store anywhere. Open Saturdays and Sundays from Noon to 4pm. There are good restaurants, many antique shops, a vintage railroad to ride and great hiking nearby. Make day of it.
Son they will also show movies again but until then enjoy FREE monthly program online. Full details here and past shows are also available.
Sign up for details of the annual Charlie Chaplin Days.
The initial 352 takes for the “flower stand sequence” in City Lights, when the tramp first meets the flower girl (played by Virginia Cherrill), were shot early in 1929. In January 1930, Chaplin shot 99 more takes of the same scene, making a total of 451 takes.
Visit Chaplin’s World dedicated to the life and work of Chaplin in his own home, the Manoir de Ban in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland.
The museum is operated by the Charlie Chaplin Museum Foundation.
Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna is an internationally recognised film archive with a multi-faceted mission ranging from film preservation and dissemination, film distribution of classics, training and research.
In the late Nineties, under the aegis of the Association Chaplin/Roy Export, Cineteca launched the Chaplin Project to restore Charlie Chaplin’s immense filmography (over 80 titles) with the double aim of allowing old and new generations of film-goers to re-discover this timeless master as well as ensuring a long lasting preservation of his films.
Chaplin has been honored with postage stamps all over the world—two in the U.S.
While there are dozens of international stamps focused on Chaplin in general and many of his films, CITY LIGHTS appears on a large number of them. Here is a sampling.
The Cuban Film Institute mobile unit visits a secluded place in the eastern mountains. Impressions and opinions of peasants in the area who see movies, Charlie Chaplin, for the first time.
Read about FOR THE FIRST TIME and its director Octavio Cortázar.
We are not going to get into the thousands of toys, gift items (some fun craftsy ones on Etsy) and so much more but couldn’t resist this plate and a few other items.
Popular in comic strips, Scream Book was released for sale on September 25, 1915, and was the first ever to be published on the rising star Charlie Chaplin. It contains a series of short comical stories as well as such gems as the Charlie Chaplin ABC. It was followed by the Fun Book.
Charlie Chaplin’s Comic Capers was originated by Stewart W. Carothers in March of 1915. E.C. Segar took over the daily strip for six months in 1916 and penned the Sunday page from March 1916 to September 1917, when the strip ended. Compared to his later work, Segar’s stories were simplistic and the artwork rough and derivative, but his work on a seven-day strip with recurring characters gave him the foundation for his Thimble Theatre success. A series of popular paperback books reprinted the daily strips within a few years of their first publication. The first book featured the earliest Segar daily comics.
Read a complete issue of Comic Capers.
Here are more daily comic strips from 1915 newspapers.
The British Funny Wonder strip. See more here.
He also had full page color Sunday comics. Thanks to Comics Kingdom for information on this strip probably inspired by IN THE PARK filed in Golden Gate Park.
There is no cure. You can’t get enough so you accept the imposters.
CHARLEY ON THE FARM (1919) – animated Charlie Chaplin cartoon by Otto Messmer and Pat Sullivan.
Charlot comics were popular everywhere.
A recent series of CGI animated Chaplin shorts. A sampling.
Fuhrer and the Tramp is a 2020 series of comic books. “It is a fictional retelling of the making of the Great Dictator by Charlie Chaplin as a direct conflict with Hitler.
Charlie Chaplin – comic, filmmaker, and raconteur – didn’t become the world’s biggest star by courting controversy, but when he comes face-to-face with the horrors of Hitler, he feels compelled to get off the sidelines and get involved. And then Charlie is approached by FDR himself with a special assignment that will send Chaplin across the globe and bring him face-to-face with the Fuhrer himself! Check out the Facebook page.
And the Kickstarter page.
Chaplin spent seven days shooting this seven-minute sequence for CITY LIGHTS, but in the end decided not to use it. The display artist in the shop window was played by Harry Crocker. According to David Robinson’s Chaplin: His Life and Art, “The messenger boy […] was played by Charles Lederer, Marion Davies’s favourite nephew, the son of her sister Reine Douras. […] Almost forty years later, when Richard Meryman interviewed him, Chaplin recalled the sequence with enormous pleasure: ‘a beautiful sequence… it was marvellous.’ He remembered it all and could still act it out, and thought that Lederer’s messenger boy was ‘very well acted.’ The decision in the end not to use it shows that however prolix Chaplin’s imagination in the process of inventing a story, his rigour in eliminating the inessential or distracting – ‘shaking the tree’ – was uncompromising.”
All images from Chaplin films made from 1918 onwards, Copyright © Roy Export S.A.S
Images from the Chaplin archives © Roy Export Company Establishment. Charles Chaplin and the Little Tramp are trademarks and/or service marks of Bubbles Inc. S.A. and/or Roy Export.