Webster University's Chaplin film series concludes this Sunday with the 1952 feature Limelight. As usual, the amazingly multitalented Chaplin wrote, produced, directed, starred in and composed the music for this, his last American film. Hostile to Chaplin's political beliefs, J. Edgar Hoover arranged for denial of Chaplin's re-entry permit after Chaplin traveled to London for Limelight's premiere.
So astonishingly multi-talented that he continues to elicit astonishment, Charlie Chaplin typically wrote, produced, directed, starred in and composed music for his films. This includes his 1947 two-hour feature Monsieur Verdoux, Webster University's Chaplin festival entry for March 20, 2011. In it, Chaplin goes out on a limb to test the limits of the dark side of his humor.
Webster University's Charlie Chaplin celebration continues the weekend of March 11 to 13, 2011, with three Chaplin features and a short. A cinematic and comic genius, Chaplin enjoyed recognition as the most loved and recognized star in the world in the 1920s. These films provide the evidence that reaffirms his inclusion in the pantheon of the most daring and imaginative artists.
Referring to the ambiguous final frames of Charlie Chaplin's romantic comedy City Lights (Will the Blind Girl still love The Tramp now that her sight has been restored and she can see he's not the gentleman she thought him to be?), film archivist Reg Hartt noted "roughly 20% of every audience I have ever shown the film to needs to be left alone for about fifteen minutes when the picture ends." The enthusiastic applause that followed the movie and the orchestra's flawless live performance of the score made that kind of contemplation impractical at the time, but on the drive home it was possible to reflect on just how anarchically funny and oddly touching Chaplin's masterpiece still is nearly 80 years after its premiere.