Photo Essays
1. Exile’s Return
2. Chaplin’s Parents
3. Hannah Chaplin’s Femmes Fatales
4. Playing Dress-Up  In The Land of Make Believe
5. Teenage Girls and Fear of Aging
6. Chaplin’s Three Teenage Wives
7. Mildred Harris
8. Lita Grey
9. Oona O’Neill
10. Chaplin’s Father
11. A Royal Lion
12. Vesta Tilley as Bertie
13. Ella Shields as Bertie
14. Making A Living
15. The Lion Comique’s Son: Dressed Like A Bum
16. Monsieur Verdoux as a Lion Comique
17. Calvero as a Lion Comique
18. The Lion Comique’s Son in the Limelight
19. Charlie as a Child
20. The Kid’s Lucky Break
21. Syd Chaplin
22. A Family Album of Theatrical Drunks
23. Chaplin’s Family Romance
24. Edna Purviance
25. Purviance’s Influence on Chaplin’s Character
26. Essanay
27. Chaplinitis
28. Chaplin’s Predecessors
29. Eye Contact: Audience-Performer Intimacy
30. Chaplin the Auteur
31. Chaplin’s Two Autobiographies
32. Going It Alone
33. The Circus
34. Autobiographical Starvation Scenes From The Gold Rush
35. Autobiographical Madness Scenes in Modern Times
36. Two British Music Hall Traditions and Topical Comedy
37. The Great Dictator
38. Fatal Attraction: Joan Barry
39. Monsieur Verdoux: Guillotine or Hatchet Job?
40. Limelight
Chaplin: A Life In Film
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Chaplin earned the undying enmity  of America’s right–wing isolationist political establishment   by making The Great Dictator.He was the only producer  in Hollywood (at that  time)   willing   to risk his own money to protest  Adolph Hitler’s   persecution of the Jews. That was  another reason why Chaplin, the filmmaker,  later received  a  record-breaking  Oscar  ovation from his peers when he returned to America in 1972. And twenty-five years later (1997), Chaplin’s film would be  selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

At the time of the world premier of The Great Dictator (January 1940), none of the media moguls in Hollywood had had the guts to speak up. More immediately concerned with the welfare of their investments and afraid to risk enmity by urging the welfare of their people, those Jewish business men opted not to alienate or offend the gentile community. (Contrary to popular belief, Chaplin himself was not Jewish).

In the right hands, mordant political satire can be a powerful propaganda weapon. And as the greatest comedian of all time, Chaplin was a formidable influence. Many film historians consider this film the most   politically  inflential  satire of a world  leader ever made, despite glaring artistic flaws which leave it less than a full-fledged masterpiece.

By abandoning traditional pantomime technique and his little tramp character in order to play two talking parts --Adolph Hitler and the Jewish barber --Chaplin spoke for the first time on film. His closing speech, an artistically flawed but emotionally heartfelt plea for concerted international intervention against Nazi Germany, earned him a subpoena to appear before a hastily formed, isolationist, anti-war Senate subcommittee on war propaganda in September of 1941. They wanted to know why this rabble-rousing two-bit clown was meddling in politics when America was still at peace with Germany.

Chaplin's financially successful film helped influence American public opinion in favor of the war - and also helped earn him (in the files of the FBI), the official political designation of "premature anti-fascist."

As Talleyrand remarked, "treason is a matter of dates." Chaplin's passionately anti-Nazi views, about which he was outspoken from the late 1930s to war's end, never changed. But America's relationship to Russia and Germany did. During the years of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, America's official position was isolationist, and Chaplin's final speech in The Great Dictator was seen as inciting to war. By the time the United States was involved in World War II, new alliances were forming. Politics during this period made strange bedfellows. The American Communist Partyand the right-wing America First Committeebecame unified in their vehement opposition to this country entering the war against Germany. And it was precisely during this period that Chaplin filmed and premiered "The Great Dictator," which openly urged Americans to wage war against the Nazis regardless of whether that war harmed or benefited the Soviet Union.

When the Soviet Union and America later became allies in a life-and-death struggle against the Axis powers, Chaplin continued voicing his vehement anti-Nazi attitudes. But now, he also championed Soviet interests as identical with our own. Throughout 1942, he campaigned vigorously on behalf of Russian War Relief and a Second Front.

Because of Chaplin's worldwide stature as an artist and the ability of a Chaplin satire to tickle funny bones on such a mass scale, those who disagreed with his politics viewed him as a formidable adversary. But if his ability to influence were to be effectively neutralized, Chaplin's popular image had to be taken down several notches.

The backlash against Chaplin began gathering momentum in late 1942. Westbrook Pegler, a conservative journalist whose syndicated column ran in hundreds of newspapers kicked off the campaign with two scathing diatribes. Equating Chaplin's activities in support of our military alliance with the Soviets as pro-Communist, and therefore anti-American, he recommended his deportation. And with even more vehemence, Pegler also made the suggestion that the actor's three previous divorces were clear proof of his unpatriotic contempt "for the standard American relationship of marriage, family and home."

The last charge proved to be the one that stuck most easily. The average American newspaper reader was in no mood for political polemics which could weaken the war effort. But as a younger man, Chaplin had a self-cultivated reputation as a ladies' man. And a juicy sex scandal involving a famous movie star made good reading.
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