Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Best of Charlie Chaplin|
Actor: Charlie Chaplin
Genres: Classics, Comedy
Charles Spencer Chaplin was born April 16, 1889, in London, England, to talented parents who both excelled in the creative arts. Charlie inherited his parents' ability to sing and act, but he later extended his list of tal... more »
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Crude but precious
Brian Hulett | Oinklahoma | 02/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is good for a specific kind of buyer. If you're curious why Chaplin is hailed as a comic genius, don't buy this DVD; it contains eight of his 1914 films (they churned 'em out like assembly line Model T's at that time) and are not among his best work. Mostly Chaplin is learning his craft here, back in the day when audiences were so excited just to see moving pictures that a plot wasn't necessary; seeing the little Tramp get into a scuffle with a pompous restaurateur or such was plenty of entertainment. Besides, Chaplin was brand new to America and had zero control over most of these films, although his directorial debut "20 Minutes of Love" is included here. If you're new to Chaplin, let me direct you instead to his later wonderful works like "The Kid," "The Gold Rush," "Modern Times," "City Lights," etc.
Also, if you're a major aficianado of silent films, Chaplin or otherwise, you won't find a bargain here. The quality of the video is frequently abominable and on at least one of these eight films it's clear that whoever dubbed in the music simply put on a scratchy LP of ragtime piano and let it fly. Well, at least one of the films uses the accompaniment of Scott Joplin's famous "The Entertainer" rag, renowned as the theme from the much better film "The Sting" from the early '70s. If you're fussy about film quality, you'll be deeply chagrined.
However, I'm just tickled to have a copy of some of Chaplin's very earliest work. It's delightful to see the little fellow developing some of the bits of business that he would utilize throughout his career. Apparently it was hugely popular to kick a big guy in the butt, as Chaplin does a lot of it here. There's really only one of these eight films that makes me laugh ("Caught in a Cabaret"), as only a couple of them have much of a plot. It's delightful to have a first-hand look at people's manner of dress and such from nearly 100 years ago, too.
And there are the oddities. "A Busy Day" is a 6-minute super-short one-reeler in which Chaplin appears as a woman through the entire film! Also "The Knockout" is actually a Fatty Arbuckle boxing film in which Chaplin steals the show as the referee (those two being the top two box office draws for Keystone Films in 1914). The famous Keystone Kops also show up repeatedly in these films, along with Mack Sennett, Mabel Normand, a very young Edgar Kennedy, and Fatty's wife at the time.
Besides, if you drop in your local Family Dollar store you may run across this DVD for a mere buck. That's a bargain for such precious history, regardless of the quality. Don't make the mistake of watching more than one or two of these little short-shorts at a time (they're all under 30 minutes). It all becomes a bit too tedious after awhile, but watching one or two of these relics at a time is a nice brief break now and again."