Friday, April 17, 2020

the great humourist born 131 years ago ! ~ life was melancholic !!


Most likely you would identify the person described .. .. almost 100 years ago, he  married for the second time. Mirroring the circumstances of his first union, Lita Grey was a teenage actress, originally set to star in the film, whose surprise announcement of pregnancy forced him  into marriage. She was 16 and he was 35, meaning this person  could have been charged with statutory rape under California law.  He therefore arranged a discreet marriage in Mexico in  1924.   It turned out to be another unhappy marriage, a bitter divorce followed, in which Grey's application – accusing him  of infidelity, abuse, and of harbouring "perverted sexual desires" – was leaked to the press.  Eager to end the case without further scandal, this person’s  lawyers agreed to a cash settlement of $600,000 – the largest awarded by American courts at that time.  .. ..  and this famous person was born on 16.4.1889 !! 

For sure, you have been at home obeying the instructions of the Govt – while most other Countries too have order lockdown arising out of Covid-19 outbreak – and some perceive that nature has claimed the space rightfully, at least for a while.  There are many  showcasing how animals are roaming freely on the streets.   Paris residents were in for a wonderful surprise when they witnessed a full-grown zebra running freely through the streets. Further, to add more fun to the scene, two horses joined it in the race and started galloping across the roads, taking the spectators by surprise.  Reportedly, the trio escaped from a circus in the town of Ormesson-sur-Marne and made its way to the neighbouring town of Chamoigny-sur-Marne on the outskirts of the French capital.  The animals escaped from a circus after the gate of their enclosure was left open by accident. Referring to this, the circus owner claimed that the animals were trained and that they didn’t wander far from the circus. He added that the animals were just roaming in the neighbourhood, and that they were brought back to the circus after 15 minutes.

The reference to ‘Circus’ could have lead you easily ~ as we have been seeing the clips of that famous act of Chaplin in running around in Circus, entering the cage of Lion, the gate getting accidentally locked and his hilarious attempts in getting out unharmed – though one risk after another chases him !  .. 

The Circus is a 1928 silent film written, produced, and directed by Charlie Chaplin. The film stars Chaplin, Al Ernest Garcia, Merna Kennedy, Harry Crocker, George Davis and Henry Bergman. The ringmaster of an impoverished circus hires Chaplin's Little Tramp as a clown, but discovers that he can only be funny unintentionally. The production of the film  reportedly was the most difficult experience in Chaplin's career. Numerous problems and delays occurred, including a studio fire, the death of Chaplin's mother, as well as Chaplin's bitter divorce from his second wife Lita Grey, and the Internal Revenue Service's claims of Chaplin's owed back taxes, all of which culminated in filming being stalled for eight months.  Despite all that, Circus was the seventh highest grossing silent film in cinema history taking in more than $3.8 million in 1928.

At a circus midway, the penniless and hungry Tramp (Chaplin) is mistaken for a condemnable pickpocket and chased by both the police and the real crook (the latter having stashed a stolen wallet and watch in the Tramp's pocket to avoid detection). Running away, the Tramp stumbles into the middle of a performance and unknowingly becomes the hit of the show. The ringmaster/proprietor of the struggling circus gives him a tryout the next day, but the Tramp fails miserably. However, when the property men quit because they have not been paid, he gets hired on the spot to take their place. Once again, he inadvertently creates comic mayhem during a show. The Tramp befriends Merna (Kennedy), a horse rider who is treated badly by her ringmaster stepfather. She later informs the Tramp that he is the star of the show, forcing the ringmaster to pay him accordingly. With the circus thriving because of him, the Tramp also is able to secure better treatment for Merna.

After overhearing a fortune teller inform Merna that she sees "love and marriage with a dark, handsome man who is near you now", the overjoyed Tramp buys a ring from another clown. Alas for him, she meets Rex (Crocker), the newly hired tightrope walker.  (smelling some Tamil movie here !) When the traveling circus leaves, the Tramp remains behind : he prefers to fade to allow them to be happy. Melancholic, he picks himself up and starts walking jauntily away.

The man who made every one laugh – found his life not so happy and laughworthy. Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin KBE (1889 –1977) was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the era of silent film. He became a worldwide icon through his screen persona, "The Tramp", and is considered one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry. His career spanned more than 75 years, from childhood in the Victorian era until a year before his death in 1977, and encompassed both adulation and controversy.

Chaplin's childhood in London was one of poverty and hardship, as his father was absent and his mother struggled financially, and he was sent to a workhouse twice before the age of nine.  In 1919, Chaplin co-founded the distribution company United Artists, which gave him complete control over his films. His first feature-length film was The Kid (1921), followed by A Woman of Paris (1923), The Gold Rush (1925), and The Circus (1928). He initially refused to move to sound films in the 1930s, instead producing City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936) without dialogue. He became increasingly political, and his first sound film was The Great Dictator (1940), which satirised Adolf Hitler. The 1940s were a decade marked with controversy for Chaplin, and his popularity declined rapidly. He was accused of communist sympathies, and some members of the press and public found his involvement in a paternity suit, and marriages to much younger women, scandalous. An FBI investigation was opened, and Chaplin was forced to leave the United States and settle in Switzerland.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17.4.2020.

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