World Tour Revisited: Juan-les-Pins

Charlie & May sunbathing in Juan-les-Pins.
Like most European women of her day, May has armpit hair. 

Sometime in early May, Charlie & his traveling companion, May Reeves, arrived in Juan-les-Pins, France, where they would remain for most of the summer. At one point, Charlie even considered building a home & a movie studio there.

Not long after he arrived, it was reported in the press that Charlie refused to participate in a command vaudeville performance for the King of England. He immediately denied the allegations saying he had not received a command from the King but a request from a music hall manager asking him to appear in a charity show. He refused, stating it would be in “bad taste” for him to appear on stage & that he had made it a principle not to do so since he became associated with films. Instead he sent a donation of $1,000 (“about as much as I earned in my last two years on the English stage.”)

Charlie was irritated by the incident and poured out his feelings to a young man he met on the tennis court in Juan, unaware that he was a reporter:

Europe has misunderstood me, bullied me & misrepresented me to such an extent that, being a moderately rich man, I don’t care a hang whether I ever make another film.

They say I have a duty to England. But I wonder what duty? I sometimes think my countrymen are the world’s greatest hypocrites. Nobody wanted or cared for me in England 17 years ago. I was just as good an artist then and I slaved and starved for a few shillings weekly.  I had to go to America for my chance and I got it.  Only then did England take the slightest interest in me.

Why are people bothering their heads about me? I am only a movie comedian. They made a politician out of me, a material sort of fellow which I am not.

Charlie went on to vent his feelings on patriotism:

I have been all over Europe in the past few months & patriotism is rampant everywhere. The result is going to be another war. I hope they send the old men to the front the next time because the old men are the real criminals of Europe today.*

Thirty-three years later in his autobiography, Charlie’s views on patriotism remained unchanged:

How can one tolerate patriotism when six million Jews were murdered in its name?

*Chicago Tribune & The Washington Post, May 11th, 1931


  1. That comment about sending old men to the front next time reminds me of "Broken Lullaby" a great pre-code antiwar film that was a fantastic statement about old men directing the young to war-it was a 1931 film, too. Wonder if he saw it?

  2. Please correct me if I am wrong but to my knowledge the shooting of this movie started in September 1931, after Chaplin had left for Europe. If the idea has anything to do with Lubitsch, perhaps they discussed about the subject before that?

  3. yeah, I have no idea about the details of the movie or process in making it – I just know I saw it on TCM and was stunned by what a great film it was.

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