Unknown Chaplin


Unknown Chaplin

"Unknown Chaplin" is an acclaimed three-part 1983 British television documentary about the career and the methods of the film luminary Charles Chaplin using previously unseen film for illustration.

The film was directed and written by film historians Kevin Brownlow and David Gill. They were granted access to unseen material from Chaplin's private film archive by his widow Oona O'Neil Chaplin. Episode one of the series was also based on a large cache of pirated outtakes from the Mutual Film Corporation period of Chaplin's career (1916-1917), made available by private film collector Raymond Rohauer. The documentary also includes interviews with Chaplin's second wife Lita Grey, his son Sydney Chaplin, and his surviving costars Jackie Coogan, Dean Reisner, Georgia Hale, and Virginia Cherrill.

The series gives unparalleled insight into Chaplin's working methods and filmmaking techniques. In particular, the Mutual outtakes (which Chaplin ordered destroyed due to content inappropriate for the time) show his painstaking approach to developing comedic and dramatic ideas on film, examined in what director Brownlow described as an "archaeology of the cinema". Also shown for the first time are completed scenes Chaplin cut from his classic feature films "The Circus", "City Lights", and "Modern Times", an enigmatic sequence called" The Professor" from "1919", footage of Georgia Hale as the flower girl in "City Lights" during a period when Chaplin had briefly fired Cherrill from the picture, and rare home movies of Chaplin, including a remarkable behind-the-scenes private film of him at work on "City Lights". Besides deleted scenes and alternate takes, a number of blooper takes were also featured, showing Chaplin laughing (and sometimes getting angry) when scenes go awry, and similar breakdowns involving his co-stars, particularly Edna Purviance who is shown in several clips breaking into laugher and, in one, playing a joke on another actress during the filming of a scene. Also included is an extensive series of alternate takes illustrating how Chaplin slowly developed the story line of "The Immigrant", including a scene from an abortive first attempt at filming which involved a completely different storyline.

The film was narrated by James Mason, and original music was scored and conducted by Carl Davis. It was shown in America on the PBS program "American Masters" in 1986. Brownlow describes the remarkable backstory of the making of the program in its 2003 DVD re-release.

External links

*imdb title|id=0158310|title=Unknown Chaplin


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