Aug 23, 2012


The site of the original enchantment

I must have been 11 or so when my dad pointed out the cover of the Scottsdale Progress's weekend arts section: the Scottsdale Center for the Arts would be screening The Circus on the big screen. I'm sure I must have been exposed to Charlie Chaplin's films before then, and I know I'd spent hours with a fabulous book of my parents', simply called The Films of Charlie Chaplin, which dutifully traced his career all the way from Kids Auto Races at Venice to King of New York, complete with copious photos, credits, and critical blurbs (it's one of the few from my folks' shelves that is now on mine).

So we went to The Circus (probably the most underrated of Chaplin's full-length silents), and I was hooked. (Not just on Chaplin, actually; that little big screen is also where I first saw pretty much the entire canon of Chaplin, Hitchcock, Welles, Minnelli, assorted Huston and Hakws and Ford, later even some Warhol; it was my own little revival cinema, and my dad dutifully accompanied to most of it, though I remember that he couldn't quite make it through Chimes at Midnight; he came back to pick me up after that one.) But though I've since discovered the somewhat sharper films of Chaplin's rival Buster Keaton, and duly concede many points to his partisans, Chaplin remains a kind of cinematic first love. There are sections of City Lights I can barely watch without bawling (and others I can't watch without yawning, frankly), and though The Gold Rush doesn't hold up so well for me anymore, Modern Times looks better and better all the time.

So I was extra-excited to sit down recently with Rob McClure, the lucky and talented New Jerseyan who's headlining the big new Broadway musical Chaplin, and nerd out about some of the films I literally grew up on. My piece for the paper of record is here.

No comments: