Showing posts with label Winston Churchill. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winston Churchill. Show all posts

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Footage of Winston Churchill's visit to the set of CITY LIGHTS, September 24th, 1929


A few days after his visit with Chaplin, Mr. Churchill wrote to his wife Clementine: 
"We made gt friends with Charlie Chaplin. You cd not help liking him. The boys were fascinated by him. He is a marvellous comedian - bolshy in politics - delightful in conversation. He acted his new film for us in a wonderful way. It is to be his gt attempt to prove that the silent drama or pantomime is superior to the new talkies. Certainly if pathos & wit still count for anything it is out to win an easy victory." (www.loc.gov)
Besides CC and Churchill, others in the footage include (L-R):
Chaplin's studio manager Alf Reeves, Churchill's son, Randolph, Churchill's brother, John,
his son, John, Jr., and Chaplin's friend, Ambassador Moore (note his photobomb at :54).

Thursday, September 19, 2013

World Tour Revisited: Charlie visits Churchill at Chartwell, September 19th, 1931*


Chaplin & Churchill first met in 1929 at a party at Marion Davies' beach house in Santa Monica & took an immediate liking to one another. A couple of days later, Charlie invited Churchill and his entourage to his Hollywood studio where they were treated to a screening of Shoulder Arms and toured the set of City Lights. "You could not help liking him," Churchill told his wife, Clementine, in a letter, "He is a marvelous comedian--bolshy in politics--delightful in conversation." 1

Charlie remembered Churchill as a charming man with a "direct, unassuming manner. He has a slight lisp when he talks and a stoop in his carriage like Napoleon. You feel immediately a dynamic force--a man with a thirst for accomplishment. He is a wonderful talker and will rattle off brilliant epigrams. Besides being a statesman he is a great writer and an excellent painter. 2

Although they rarely saw eye to eye on politics, the two men discussed many things at Chartwell, including Charlie's interest in making a film about Napoleon. "You must do it," Churchill said. "Apart from the drama, think of its possibilities for humor. Napoleon in his bathtub arguing with his imperious brother who’s all dressed up, bedecked in gold braid, and using this opportunity to place Napoleon in a position of inferiority. But Napoleon, in his rage, deliberately splashes water over his brother’s fine uniform and he has to exit ignominiously from him. This is not alone clever psychology. It is action and fun." 3

With Churchill & his family at Chartwell in Westerham, Kent, Sept. 19th, 1931.
 L-R: Tom Mitford, Churchill,  2nd Lord Birkenhead,  Clementine Churchill,
 Diana Churchill, Randolph Churchill, and Charlie.

Next on Charlie's itinerary: A meeting with Gandhi.
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* Charlie first visited Chartwell in February 1931 with his friend, Ralph Barton, who had accompanied him on his voyage to England. Barton had become obsessed about his ex-wife Carlotta Monterey's marriage to Eugene O'Neill and Charlie hoped the trip abroad would lift his friend's spirits. Not long after their arrival, Barton began acting strangely. Charlie noticed he had cut the wires to the clocks in the room, and Carlyle Robinson had even seen him holding a pistol. A few days after the City Lights premiere in London on Feb. 27th, Barton announced he was returning to the States. On May 19th he killed himself in his New York apartment. Charlie received word of his friend's suicide while he was in the south of France.

2 Chaplin, "A Comedian Sees The World, Part II,"  A Woman's Home Companion, Oct. 1933
3 Ibid.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

World Tour (1931-32) Revisited: London premiere of City Lights at the Dominion Theater, Feb. 27th, 1931

Charlie's guests were George Bernard Shaw and Lord & Lady Astor (Ralph Barton is facing Charlie on the left.)
 When the film was over, Shaw said, "The little fellow is a genius whom none of us has properly appreciated."

Dominion Theater program
Charlie takes a bow following the premiere.  He told the audience:
"It would be silly to say how much I feel all this emotion. This has been a wonderful triumph for me,
coming home to my own country like this. Some day, perhaps, when I have a few more gray hairs
I may sit down quietly and write it all down in a book about my life."

After the screening, Charlie held a party at the Ritz-Carlton. Winston Churchill was among the guests.  He danced with several ladies but he was most intrigued by a dancer named Sari Maritza, who, along with her friend, Vivian Gaye, had attended the premiere as guests of Charlie's press agent, Carlyle Robinson. She became his constant companion until he left for Berlin two weeks later. 


Winston Churchill at the City Lights premiere party.
City Lights party: Vivian Gaye is second from let, Sari Maritza is on the far right,
Carlyle Robinson is standing behind her. 
Charlie with a chef at the Ritz-Carlton

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