A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG (Charles Chaplin, 1966)

Charles Chaplin’s final film, A Countess from Hong Kong, was initially drubbed for lacking the inspiration of his earlier masterpieces. Andrew Sarris analyzed this assault by “critics” as their self-serving “power play” and called the unfairly maligned film “the quintessence of everything Chaplin has ever felt.” But even Sarris, while praising one scene for being […]

THE KID (Charles Chaplin, 1921)

Writer-director Charles Chaplin made cinema’s most brilliant satirical comedies, works of genius; but his first feature film, The Kid, has little to recommend it. Obliquely echoing Oliver Twist (the transmutation of the Dickens material is much the most interesting aspect of the film), The Kid shows Chaplin’s Tramp finding and raising an abandoned baby born […]

THE PILGRIM (Charles Chaplin, 1923)

Religious lunacy and hypocrisy in the American landscape: these are Charles Chaplin’s targets in his sharp, satirical, refreshing The Pilgrim.      Charlie’s introduction to us is his image on a wanted poster; Charlie has escaped from prison. His striped prison clothes are discovered by a bush. Hilarious cut: Next we see—or, I should say, first we […]

MONSIEUR VERDOUX (Charles Chaplin, 1947)

I have just added this, Chaplin’s own favorite among his films, to my 100 Greatest English-Language Films List. Henri Landru had been guillotined for murdering eight women. Fifteen years later, in 1937, Henri Verdoux met the same fate, with half a dozen more victims to his credit—or debit. From the grave, this “mass killer” speaks […]