World Tour Revisited: Biarritz

Sometime at the end of July 1931, Charlie’s friend and assistant director, Harry d’Arrast, arrived in Juan-les-Pins. He suggested that Charlie must see Biarritz, “the fashionable seaside resort situated near the border of Spain.”* Charlie and his companion, May Reeves, would motor there in Harry’s car, making side trips to Paris and the Chateau Brissac. They would finally arrive in Biarritz during the first week of August and would spend the next two months there.

May recalled the journey from Juan to Biarritz as “a true road of tears.” Charlie and May were already at odds before they left the Riviera. According to May, Charlie would constantly pick fights with her and accuse her of infidelity. In Paris, May suggested a trial separation. “Very well,” Charlie said. “You stay at the Carlton; I’ll go to Versailles and stay at the Trianon.”** May felt this separation “improved our rapport.” However, in the car from Paris to Biarritz, they had another disagreement. This time Charlie suggested that they stay in separate hotels, but this separation lasted less than a day. May recalled that the two months spent in Biarritz “were not pleasant. On some days Charlie became almost neurasthenic. I hardly dared to tiptoe across the apartment.”** It seems clear that Charlie was already becoming bored with May and didn’t know how to end their relationship. I think his jealousy revealed nothing more than a case of the age-old: “I don’t want her, but I don’t want anyone else to have her” syndrome.

Coming up next week: Charlie & Harry are involved in a car accident. Charlie attends a bullfight. Stay tuned…

Charlie & May in Biarritz. Harry d’Arrast is at far left.

*”A Comedian Sees The World 1933
**May Reeves, The Intimate Charlie Chaplin

World Tour Revisited: I follow Chaplin on his 1931-32 world tour.


  1. I actually went back and was re-reading the Georgia Hale book after I finished May Reeve's book, because Reeve's interpretation of Charlie's behavior seemed so exaggerated to me. Hale's book is strange in it's own way, but at least he doesn't come off as weird as he does in Reeve's book. Cold, yes. Forgetful and conceited, yes. Or, as Belle says above…"bad boyfriend material"!

  2. It was cross country skiing that she claims he made her do. It made no sense because chapters before she went on and on about how angry he was with her for not immediately agreeing with him that it would be so wonderful to have a love child with him. Her hesitation in answering him in the positive cost her nights of "unbearable agony" with his abuse of her. Then she says he was enraged when she got pregnant? Hmm…

  3. I like Georgia's book. Even if she comes off as a bit kooky, I think she's honest and I believe she really loved him. I have to admit, though, that I have never read the dream section. It's just too weird.

  4. right – you may be right ( and yes about the doctor's bill)- I think I was just very unimpressed with May all around. She truly did seem like a sponger who was disappointed that Chaplin didn't come through as some kind of sugar daddy. I'll stop complaining about her accounts of him, LOL!

  5. I think a lot of women were disappointed when they found out how tight Charlie was with money. Georgia seemed to be an exception to this. She didn't seem to care that Charlie didn't shower her with gifts. Oona, too, although she is quoted as saying "I'm rich! I'm rich!" when she told Truman Capote's mother that she was going to marry Charlie.

  6. I liked Georgia's book, too. Mostly because it wasn't all centered on Charlie. She was involved with other productions and I found that interesting as well. The dream sequence was bizarre. Some kind of Utopian dream, if i remember correctly. I really, really wish Goddard had written an account of her time with him.

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