Showing posts with label Emil Ludwig. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emil Ludwig. Show all posts

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Listen to Chaplin, Nigel Bruce, and others in a political roundtable discussion on KFWB, December 1942

I've posted this before, but it seemed appropriate to post again since the election. Chaplin enjoyed a good political argument and was very passionate about his beliefs, which comes through in the following discussion. I have a feeling he would be just as worried about our country now as he was then.

"On Wednesday, December 16, 1942, Charlie Chaplin  made one of the most unusual radio broadcasts of his career. His friend Robert Arden asked him to appear on America Looks Abroad, a 45-minute political roundtable talk show not unlike the ones heard on countless cable news networks today. The program aired on KFWB in Los Angeles, owned and operated by Warner Brothers Pictures. Then, as now, KFWB was a major station with a wide broadcast range, but it was unlikely that the  program was heard beyond Southern California."1

Besides Chaplin, the other panelists included Nigel Bruce (who was later cast as Mr. Postant in Limelight), Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Dr. Emil Ludwig, the biographer of Napoleon whom Chaplin met in France in 1931, and Mutiny On The Bounty directer Frank Lloyd.

The somewhat shady & opportunistic Arden met Chaplin in 1941 and became part of his small inner circle of friends. He is mentioned often in Chaplin's FBI file since the two shared what it called "leftist proclivities." Arden was also involved in the Joan Barry scandal. In fact, he may have been the one who suggested introducing Barry to Chaplin in the first place. Two years later in 1943, he was indicted for his participation in Chaplin's alleged violation of the Mann Act (aka conspiring to deny Joan Barry of her civil rights).  Ironically, the infamous incident in which Joan Barry broke into Chaplin's home with a gun occurred one week after this broadcast on December 23rd, 1942.

Arden and Chaplin

More about this broadcast and Arden's relationship with Chaplin can be found in Rob Farr's essay "Chaplin On The Radio--Part II" in Limelight and The Music Hall Tradition.

Now a little about this recording. It is missing the opening introductions & begins with Arden announcing the topic of the day: "The Question of Unity: How much unity do we have to have to bring this war to a successful conclusion?" Chaplin does not talk about his personal life nor his films. He only discusses politics--something he loved to talk about. And at times he gets very passionate about it. He will discuss the "bugaboo about Communism" & during one particularly heated response declares: "I am going to be Communistic." His remarks are often met with applause from the audience. This is a Chaplin most of us have only read about but not heard.

For those who only want to hear the Chaplin parts, the longest ones can be found at :50 & 6:53 (responding to comments by Nigel Bruce), 17:50, 19:20, 27:35, & his final remarks are heard at 41:20. However sprinkled in between these segments are some back and forth exchanges between Chaplin & the other panelists that are certainly worth hearing, if you have time.

1Rob Farr, "Chaplin On The Radio--Part II"

Monday, May 20, 2013

World Tour Revisited: Charlie meets Napoleon biographer Emil Ludwig, late May 1931

Chaplin, May Reeves, & Emil Ludwig

During the early part of his holiday in the French Riviera, Charlie received a telegram from German writer Emil Ludwig. He would be in the south of France for only one day and would like to meet him. Charlie made plans for his visit.
We are to lunch at the Palm Beach Casino, a beautiful location opposite the island of Sainte Marguerite upon which stands the historical prison reputed to be the place where The Man in the Iron Mask was incarcerated.
Ludwig has a likeness to Byron--the same high lofty, brow and well-formed chin, with a full sensitive mouth almost feminine--a man in his early forties. Upon meeting him I was impressed by his eager youthful spirit.
Ludwig was equally impressed by Chaplin:
He came toward me with a frank open look--a small, closely knit man who, obviously, had won through to serenity--or at least an appearance of serenity--which, earlier, had not been his. There was in him a fresh vigor and in his eyes a lively sparkle which I had not expected.
May Reeves recalled that Charlie was ill at ease during the meeting and kept nervously repeating, "Well, well, well." She thought Ludwig seemed relieved that she could speak German with him.

During lunch, Ludwig produced a bay leaf saying: "It was a custom of the ancient Greeks to bestow a laurel leaf upon those whom they admired, and so I want you to keep this as a token of my esteem." (Afterward, when they were alone, Charlie told May: "He must have a complete herb garden in his baggage.")

Later in the conversation, Ludwig noticed that Charlie's mouth suddenly drooped,
...and when the same expression repeated itself later, I saw it was his mouth that truly revealed him, which united the two Chaplins--Chaplin the actor and Chaplin the man.
In his drooping, sensitive mouth, when he leaves it for a moment undisciplined, is expressed all the resignation, all the renunciation which cannot be acted unless it has been experienced.
It is not the mouth of a lover of humanity. Chaplin is a fighter, for his passion against the smug and sated rich is deeper, it seemed to me, than his compassion for the suffering poor.
Chaplin's mouth is a tragic mouth; but it is a mouth that can bite. 
Charlie recalled that they also discussed what they considered to be the most beautiful things they had seen in life:
I related the action of Helen Wills playing tennis, also a moving picture from a news weekly of a man plowing the fields of Flanders after the war. The tragic stoop of his back, the determination and courage as he furrowed into the soil, the indomitable spirit and will to build up over the wreckage.
Ludwig gave a beautiful description of the glow of a red sun setting on the beach in Florida, an automobile rolling along at twelve miles an hour, and a girl in a bathing suit reclining on the running board, her toe lightly trailing over the smooth surface of the sand, leaving a thin line as she rode along.

"A Comedian Sees The World Part 3," A Woman's Home Companion, November 1933
"Emil Ludwig X-Rays Charlie Chaplin," Liberty, August 22, 1931
May Reeves, The Intimate Charlie Chaplin, trans. & ed. by Constance Brown Kuriyama, McFarland, 2001
Gerith Von Ulm, Charlie Chaplin: King Of Tragedy, Caxton, 1940