Charlie Chaplin: The Most Significant Contributor to Cinema

         If I had to choose one film actor that has made the most significant contributions to cinema, it would have to be Charlie Chaplin. The 1925 The Gold Rush was the first film we have seen in class that was able to keep my attention the entire time.

         I enjoyed the fact that Chaplin's sense of humor was simple and just a little out of the ordinary. This most likely would have come from his deprived background as a child. According to the text, Chaplin's parents were music hall entertainers, and they allowed him to spend his childhood on stage. That explains his amazing talent. He has been acting since he first began to walk and talk.

         In The Gold Rush Chaplin's acting and directing really made an amazing change, compared to the movies we had seen before. The scene where Chaplin and his lumberjack friends are trying to kick each other out into the snowstorm was one of my favorite. I really enjoyed the way the music score led me to expect what was about to happen next, as well as the looks on Chaplin's face that made the scenes more exciting. But most of all I just enjoyed how Chaplin made all of his scenes over the top with taking just that one-step farther that I had expected him to.

         According to our text, David A. Cook's History of Narrative Film, Chaplin starred in his first movie in at the age of 24 in 1913 working for Keystone Films with an income of only $150 a week. While he was with this company Chaplin made thirty-four shorts and the six-reel feature Tillie's Punctured Romance. Even though Chaplin was able to work on his acting while he was with Keystone Film, he decided to leave that studio and try to work on a more subtle type of humor.

         In 1915 Chaplin stared in a group of his best work, including The Tramp, Work, The Bank and A Night at the Show. After these films Chaplin was officially a movie star. His popularity in his 1915 films allowed him to charge $10,000 a week in salary as well as a $150,000 signing bonus for his 1916 films. From there his career really took off he starred in 12 film between 1916 and 1917. These films were produced with great care, and some say that they are 12 nearly perfect masterpieces. In June of 1917 First National offered him $1 million to produce 8 films regardless of their length. After this Chaplin achieved super star status, and his career was now his own. Chaplin went on to produce and act in many films during the 1920's.

         In the 1930's Chaplin worked on his two sound films. The text explained that these films were not dialogue-filled; instead there were music scores as well as some sound effects. Lastly in 1940 Chaplin produced his first full-length talkie titled, The Great Dictator. This film was a satire about European dictatorships and was released to the United State just before Pearl Harbor and did not go over very well. The movie goers of the American public were split over the reasons why they did not like this movie: some said that it was too serious, and other thought it was not serious enough.

         In conclusion I would have to say Chaplin's early start on stage and the developing of his amazing acting ability he was been born with helped put him on the top of the list of the most important actors in cinema history.

Kimberly Griffin

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