Charlie Chaplin: From Nothing to Something

        Born the son of two impoverished music hall entertainers from Britain, Charlie Chaplin has put his mark on the history of cinema. Chaplin was most known for his character of looking like a little, sad clown in baggy pants, a derby hat, small coat, large shoes, short mustache, and a cane. This character was known as the little tramp. The character always seemed to wobble into unfortunate situations, but able to wobble right back out. His career grew fast from the stages he began to act on as a young man to the many films that he had written, directed, produced, scored, and starred in by his later years. His career was such a huge impact on cinema history.

        By the age of ten, both Chaplin and his brother had to learn to fend for themselves after the premature death of their father and soon after a debilitating illness of their mother. Charlie joined performing youth groups where he was known for his tap dancing abilities. Soon after landing a role in Sherlock Holmes, he was him into vaudeville, leading him to the United States of America. After it was apparent what a hit Charlie Chaplin was making, he was offered a movie contract that earned him $150 a week. Due to his blockbuster potential, he soon began receiving other offers from studios that made his current salary look meager. These films made him internationally famous. He also displayed his desire for social satire. He would depict struggles between the rich versus the poor and the feeble versus the tough in scenarios, most of which during the depression era. An example of a movie from this time era was The Immigrant (1917). He made several movies, giving him the confidence that he could do more with his career (

        After his contracts were finally up, he decided to become his own producer with the help from First National, supporting him financially to help build some studios. During this time (1918-21) he created such films as A Dog's Life, Idle Class, and the most well known The Kid. This movie grossed $2.5 million, and it is no wonder, for when I saw this movie, it was funny and it touched your heart. Unlike Erich von Stroheim's grim treatment of hardship, starvation, and greed in the movie Greed that we watched in class, somehow Charlie Chaplin was able to make these distressing subjects into a work of comic genius known as The Gold Rush (1925) (

        Chaplin was known for wanting to make his movies as perfect as possible. During the making of The Gold Rush, the scene where The Lone Prospector (Chaplin) and Big Jim (Matt Swain) have a boot for supper took three days and sixty-three takes to please Chaplin from a director's stand point. Because the boot was made of licorice, Chaplin was later rushed to hospital due to an insulin shock. It seems that Chaplin mostly improvised his story in front of the camera with only a basic idea of a script. He shot and printed hundreds of scenes while making a movie. While this was unordinary due to the expense and time inefficiency, it allowed for some entertainingly creative footage. Chaplin was known to decide half-way through a film that an actor was not working and start over with someone new. Actors seemed to put up with this because they knew that they were working for a genius.

        Though his personal life from time to time came under fire, Charlie Chaplin will always be remembered as a great hero from the silent film era. Chaplin always realized that a full-length movie needed to be deeper than just slapstick comedy. He was the one to set the bar. He died on Christmas day in 1977. He will always be remembered for his important impact on the film society (

Works Cited

Kristin Windsor

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