Charlie Chaplin movies are some of the most treasured of classic American cinema. With his special style of slapstick and visual comedy, Charlie Chaplin took the silent movie industry by storm in the 1910’s and 1920s. A born entertainer, Charles Spencer Chaplin, better known as Charlie Chaplin to most of the world made a plethora of popular movies throughout the duration of his career.
Charlie Chaplin’s first movie was Making a Living, a movie about an unemployed swindler that ends up taking a job as a reporter. The plot revolves around his character stealing a story from a rival reporter, thus causing a cat-and-mouse chase around the town. Of Charlie Chaplin’s movies, he was least proud of this one. But reviewers thought his performance was outstanding and they described him as a first caliber comedian.
In his second film, Mabel’s Strange Predicament, the iconic character that is attributed to his name was born. Charlie Chaplin picked his costume for the movie, stating that he wanted to dress him as a contradiction, with a small jacket and big pants, a small hat and large shoes. He also thought that the small moustache would age him some. He surprisingly did not have an idea for the character until he put the costume on. But once he was dressed, he said that he immediately knew who the character was.
Interestingly, of Charlie Chaplin’s movies, the one that he was first seen wearing the iconic ‘tramp’ costume in was not Mabel’s Strange Predicament, but Kid’s Auto Races At Venice, a movie filmed afterwards, but released two days before. The movies, and particularly his new character, were such a hit that he decided to adopt the character permanently. The birth of this new character also peaked his personal creative interest in his movies and he started to suggest creative elements in movies that were initially not received well my studio executives.
Finally, though, with insurance to cover any fallout that the production company may receive for a failed movie, they allowed Chaplin to direct his own movie. Of Charlie Chaplin’s movies, Caught In the Rain was he first directorial debut. It was a movie about Chaplin’s character The Tramp intercepting a woman in the park when she is separated from her husband. The comedy goes on as he is pummeled by the woman’s husband, and later ends up in other comedic situations in a hotel that ultimately ends up with him on a ledge in the rain. Audiences loved it, and Charlie Chaplin’s movies began to gain popularity around the world.
The first feature length Charlie Chaplin movie was the film Tillie’s Punctured Romance. Chaplin only had a supporting role in the film, but the film was a huge success and thus was a springboard for his career. Soon Chaplin was asking for a larger salary from his production company and asserting more creative control in his movies. With this, Chaplin began to assert more emotion into his films, as can be seen in the movie named for his famous character, The Tramp.
With creative control, Charlie Chaplin’s movies also began to take longer to produce. He had such control of the production of his films that he often took several weeks to months past the movie production company’s deadline to finish them. Yet, they were all highly successful, and by 1915 Charlie Chaplin was a worldwide sensation. Soon the 26 year old became one of the richest people in the world. His popularity was far reaching, and even the critics began to view the goofy comedian as a true artist and comedic genius.
He went on to make many more, but perhaps one of Charlie Chaplin’s movies that is most notable is The Kid. The Kid was a film about a series of events that affect the relationship between The Tramp and The Kid, a child he is caring for on the streets. The movie dealt with issues of parent-child separation and poverty. It is rumored that the movie was based on Charlie Chaplin’s own childhood, and perhaps his emotions about his child that died three days after being born. It was perhaps this loss that happened not so coincidentally before he began filming The Kid, that was the catalyst for the poetic message of this film. It could be said that his life was a huge influence on his art, even though most all of his films were of the comedic variety.
The legacy of Charlie Chaplin’s movies will undoubtedly live on in infamy. His style and talent combined with his drive to perfect his movies have provided us with some of the most entertaining comedic silent films ever to be made. His creativity and insistence to have creative control over his work make obvious marks on his movies that make distinct imprints on this era of movies and will remain some of the most cherished and loved films to ever be made.