Magpie’s top Eleven facts about Charlie Chaplin

It’s odd, there’s just some knowledge that you can take for granted, for instance I always knew Charlie Chaplin was one of the first movie stars and that his films revolutionised  how films or at least comedy was made…I think.  But I didn’t know he spoke out against the Nazis while they were still popular in America, just like a couple of comic book writers did. *see, proof that I can fit a Captain America reference anywhere*  Or that he was actually booted out of America for apparently being a communist.

Rather akin to Meryl Streep’s The Iron Lady Robert Downey Jr’s Chaplin shone a new light onto a subject  that I sort of knew about but really never showed much interest in. So here are the top ten things I learned about Charlie Chaplin, some from the film it’s self and others from deeper research.

11. His mother was sent to an asylum when he was nine *although the film made him look a lot older* 

10.  In 1892 his mother had a third son fathered by music hall entertainer, who was taken away at six months old by his father and who Chaplin did not see again until thirty years later.  *Oddly enough he was left completely out of the film*

9.  His first stage appearance came at five years old,when he took over from his mother one night after she was booed off the stage *She never sung again after that*

8.  In 1919 Chaplin along with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford  and D.W. Griffith founded Artists United. They’re intention was to control  their own interests rather then depending upon the powerful commercial studios. *Ironic when you think who controls the company now*

7. Chaplin’s first and only child with first wife Mildred Harris, a son named Norman Spencer Chaplin was born malformed and died three days latter. Inspiring Chaplin’s film The Kid , the first of his movies to last over an hour of screen time

6. In his lifetime Charlie Chaplin had four marriages;  Mildred Harris, Lillita McMurray, Paulette Goddard and Oona O’Neil and around eleven children: Norman Spencer Chaplin, Charles Chaplin Jr., Sydney Chaplin, Geraldine Chaplin, Michael Chaplin, Josephine Chaplin, Victoria Chaplin, Eugene Chaplin, Jane Chaplin, Annette Chaplin and Christopher Chaplin.

5. In 1941 Chaplin started an affair with expiring  actress Joan Brady, offering her a contract with his studio. Both the contract and the affair ended a year later after Brady started displaying signs of severe mental illness. 

 A year after their separation,she filed a paternity suit against Chaplin. Although blood tests proved Chaplin was not the father, they were disregarded in court proceedings and Chaplin was ordered to support the child. The injustice of the ruling later led to a change in California law to allow blood tests as evidence.

4.  On 21 March 1944 Chaplin was tried for  violating the Mann Act which prohibited transporting Women over the border for sexual  purposes. Chaplin was finally aquited on 4 April that year. 

3.  During World War II, , an FBI investigation was opened on Chaplin under the premise that he was a potential threat to national security. *Or as they called it back then being a communist.

Chaplin denied being a communist, but felt the government’s effort to suppress the ideology was an unacceptable infringement of civil liberties. Unwilling to be quiet about the issue, he openly protested the trials of Communist Party members and the activities of the House Un-American Activities Committee.

 Calls were made to have the film Star  deported, with Representative John E. Rankin of Mississippi telling the House in June 1947:

“Chaplin has refused to become an American citizen. His very life in Hollywood is detrimental to the moral fabric of America. If he is deported … his loathsome pictures can be kept from before the eyes of the American youth. He should be deported and gotten rid of at once.”
Two years later after returning from the London premiere of his film Limelight
Chaplin was denied access back into the country and decided to throw up his hands and cut ties with America.
“Whether I re-entered that unhappy country or not was of little consequence to me. I would like to have told them that the sooner I was rid of that hate-beleaguered atmosphere the better, that I was fed up of America’s insults and moral pomposity”


2. There were strong similarities between Chaplin and  Hitler; being born in the same year a mear four days apart and raised in very  similar circumstances. It was widely noted that Hitler wore the same toothbrush moustache as the Tramp  and it was this physical resemblance that formed the basis of Chaplin’s most political film.


1. Greatley disturbed by the surge of militaristic nationalism in 1930s world politics, Chaplin found that he could not keep these issues out of his work:  

How could I throw myself into feminine whimsy or think of romance or the problems of love when madness was being stirred up by a hideous grotesque, Adolf Hitler?”

 The Great Dictator– a “satirical attack on fascism” took two years to develop simply the script and began production in September 1939 and was released in 1940 a year before America would finally enter the war.

Deciding it was the best choice and admitting defeat against it at last Chaplin submitted to using dialogue.  Making a comedy about Hitler was seen as highly controversial, but Chaplin’s financial independence allowed him to take the risk.

“I was determined to go ahead,” he later wrote, “for Hitler must be laughed at.”

Chaplin replaced the Tramp  with “A Jewish Barber”, a reference to the Nazi’s belief that the comedian himself was Jewish.  In a dual performance he also plays the dictator “Adenoid Hynkel”, a parody of Hitler.

The film was a resounding success and was  one of the biggest money makers that year. The critics however were less enthusiastic, many considering the ending, a six minute speech in which Chaplin stared strait at the camera and spoke his personal beliefs,  inappropriate. some have identified the speech as triggering Chaplin’s decline in popularity, and writes,

“Henceforth, no movie fan would ever be able to separate the dimension of politics from the star image of Charles Spencer Chaplin.”

The Great Dictator received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor.

The Teacup of death

I spoke in my last post of how a really good film can redeem an actor you’ve lost faith or interest in, well the same can be said for a subject. Which brings us to our main topic of conversation…politics.

Now before we go full swing there’s something you should know, my brother loves politics, like more then air so I there for do not. In fact when ever he starts talking about it I drown him out with white noise, it’s actually quite a talent to trick someone into thinking you’re listing to them.

This is the way it’s always been since as far back as I can remember *which admittedly isn’t that long* and it’s how I’d always believed it would be, but that was until…The Iron Lady

Starring Meryl Streep as the infamous Margret Thatcher The Iron Lady brought a whole new perspective on what had thus far been nothing but a boring stuffy subject. Starting at Thatcher’s old age the film looks back on her illustrious carrier starting with her exception into Oxford as a young woman.

The passion with witch Thatcher speaks of her principles and her believes really makes you feel the power behind them. Even if you don’t agree with what she believed you have to admire her conviction to do what she believed was right.

A lot if not all of this comes from Streep’s performance, it’s one thing to just spout off a lot of political  gibberish in your film and hope someone out there agrees with you  it’s quite another to have the character actually believe it.  I can’t count the times I’ve herd an argument in a film that I technically agree with,  but because I can’t see the passion for it in the character’s eyes I  find it hard to get behind them whole heartedly.

I think one of my favourite parts of the film would be the speech she gave to her husband then boyfriend on how she didn’t  want to die drying a teacup. The speech was moving and inspiring  not only because of the performance but because they took the time to show us how she’d come to these conclusions.

It didn’t even take that long, but it made the character and there for her believes more three dimensional. In fact that could be  said about the whole film, because it took the time to show us rather the tell us it made even the washing of a teacup a profound event.


The April Fool

Well it’s April Fools day again and as spectacular as last year went this one was a bit of a let down. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me take you back to April 1st 2011 the year I did the almost impossible, I pranked mum!

So I’m up around five, naturally before anyone else, so even if I don’t prank anyone no one will be pranking me. So I go through to the living room to wait until mum gets up. But I lose patience with that quickly.

So I’m outside mum’s room and, you know what I almost chicken out, I almost didn’t go through with it. But I did, I told myself that if she was asleep then I would just go away. But she wasn’t.

I went into her room and said “mum there’s four deer in the garden and I think one of them has antlers.” I was surprised when she actually believed me. But she did. We had reached the living room and she said “I’ll just go get my camera” I couldn’t hold it in any longer, I laughed and yelled April Fools!

I won’t go into the details of this year’s prank but let’s just say that well I forgot. That’s right I forgot that it was April Fools day and by the time I remembered mum was already in the shower. Wasn’t like last time when I got her when she’d just woken up.

Actually I just had a thought maybe the fact that I was completely in the dark about it being April 1st like until nine or eight o clock in the morning is the real joke. Because no one even attempted to play a trick on me. For fuck sakes even My Brother knew before I did.

Brother Cadfael and the case of the gay Benedictine

I stayed up late last night so that I could finished the book I was reading, An Excellent Mystery by Ellis Peters. It’s the eleventh book in the Cadfael chronicles and I have to say that it’s also the best. Because one of the brothers was gay.

Which if you think about it isn’t all that surprising. I mean a big stone building filled to chocker block with only men, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often. However I don’t think he was actually gay, he just hated women so much that he would prefer to sleep with men. Which is a bit disappointing if you think about it.

I would have liked nothing more then for him to actuly have been gay and to make inappropriate comments to all of the brothers. Which really proves just how strange I am. That I wanted him to hit on Cadfael just to see what the maverick Benedictine monk’s reaction would be. But seeing how Cadfael was going on sixty in this book that was unlikely to happen.

Maybe it’s for the best, he wasn’t a particularly nice person. I mean come on man! Your a fricking monk for crying out load! Your not suppose to be having sex, let alone blackmailing people into having it with you! I mean come on why did you even become a monk?!

Denethor and Henry: father’s of the year

I don’t think I’m the first person to notice the parallels between lord of the rings and history. But I think I’m the first to draw one between Henry VII and Denethor. Probably because it makes completely no sense what so ever.

You see my brother has this habbit of bursting into my room and blurting out random bits of information and then leaving. Well he did that and told me about Henry VIII’s relationship with his father Henry VII. To put it bluntly Henry VII didn’t like Henry VIII. And that kind of reminded me of, well of Denethor and Faramir.

Henry also like Faramir had an older brother, Arthur prince of whales. So maybe there was the same kind of favouritism going on as Denathor showed towards Boromir. Remember the bit in The Return of the King when Faramir says “Do you wish it were I who had died and Boromir who had lived?” And the wanker actually says. “Yes that is what I wish.” I mean how emotional scaring can you get. If that’s the way young Henry was treated it’s no wonder he turned out as fucked up as he did.

Edward Cullens grandmother

A skeleton exumed from a grave in venice is being claimed as the first known example of the “vampires” widely referredd to in contempory documents, according to New Scientist.

Matteo Borrini of the University of Florence in Italy found the skeleton of a woman with a small brick in her mouth, while excavating mass graves of plagure victims from the middle ages on Laazzaretto Nuovo Island in Venice.

The skeleton was removed from a mass grave of victims of the Venetian plague of 1576

At the time the woman died, many people belived that the plague was spread by “vampiress” which, rather than drinking people’s blood, spread disease by chewing on their shrouds after dying.

Borrini said: “Grave-diggers put bricks in the mouths of suspected vampires to stop them doing thhis”.

I’m not sure how exactly putting bricks in their mouths would prevent this from happening . Is it not correct that in most folklore vampires are incredibly strong? And there for would probably be able to bite through, a brick no problem what so ever. At least if the legends are to be believed and lets face it if your scared enough to shove a brick into a dead woman’s mouth then you clearly do belive the ledgeneds. So I still don’t see the logic behind those actions.

Of course we no longer do such foolish things any more. No, now we just stick our tounges down their thoughts