The Golden Age of Hollywood

I think ( just my own opinion,mind you) That Charlie Chaplin is entirely overrated! I think that Harold Loyd and especially Buster Keaton were much more innovative and all -around much more ground breaking and amusing than the vastly more popular Chaplin. Hey ,if this doesn't stir some discussion, I give up!

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I'm not sure that I could agree with you Chuck about him being overrated. Chaplin was a genius in so many ways. He was a director, choreographer, writer, actor, musician, composer and several other things. I'm not at all sure that you can compare Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd with Chaplin. The only thing they have in common is being silent era comedians as far as I can tell. Beyond that the comparison ends. Also, when I watch films like The Gold Rush, The Kid, Modern Times, The Great Dictator or even Limelight, I feel that not one other actor could have done those films. With Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton I cannot say the same. I love them both and their contributions but I think Chaplin was heads and tails above them.

Kevin
Chaplin plays his little tramp character and nothing else.He touches the heart with his pathos and never strays from the formula. I'm not saying he has no talent, I'm just saying that he has never deservec to be as revered as he has always been.Buster Keaton and Harold loyd added thrills to the laughs and went in exploratory new roads with the stunt comedy that is still being preformed today with Jackie Chan. Besides, Keaton, Loyd, Stan and Ollie all just made me laugh more. Again though folks, this is just one Abdullah's opinion!
I don't meant to stray from the topic, but I'm of the opinion that Laurel and Hardy have somehow lost their luster or standing as classic film comedians, most especially with younger viewers. It seems that when I was a kid (40-plus years ago), we had the L&H shorts playing on local TV in New York every Sunday, and so they were seen regularly. Now, it's a treat to find them on TV at all. But Stan & Ollie were absolutely brilliant together.
I agree Steve that L&H were brilliant. I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin in the 1960s and our local TV stations featured them as well. They certainly paved the way for other comedy teams to follow.

Kevin
I absolutely adore Stan and Ollie! I get disheartened when talking to some folks who don't see them as any more than Abbott and Costello. While I enjoy A&C they are not even in the league of the innovative Laurel and Hardy. Like W.C. Fields, The Marx Brothers and many other greats, Laurel and Hardy seem to get further and Further from the public eye. It's a shame, really.
I think comedy is such a personal thing. What someone finds funny varies so much. Chaplin I have to admit isn't everyone's cup of tea : his use of pathos and wearing his heart on his sleeve isn't fashionable now. If you compare say Charlie's shorts of the teens with Keaton and Lloyd's 20s films yes the latter are more innovative and certainly more cinematic.

Chaplin was very much a child of the music hall. Everything in his work is dedicated to capturing the antics of the Tramp, only very occasionally did he go in for camerawork of any great sophistication. There are some interesting travelling shots in His New Job (1915) but not much more. The fact is Chaplin didn't need it : why bother when the focus is what the little man does.

In comparison Keaton was fascinated by the camera and also opened up his films with outdoor shooting as did Lloyd. Only Chaplin film that really does this is The Gold Rush (1925) and most of that was actually shot in the studio. But then Charlie's comedy is about human reactions and emotions, no one else's really was at least to that extent. That is why for me he was the one with the international following and why he survived the arrival of sound, first by keeping making silents then by making films with different characters though the broad themes of them were much the same.

The thing to remember about Chaplin was he was a pioneer. Without him to me there would have been no Keaton or Lloyd. His silent features still to me are as good as any silent comedies and in some cases among the greatest silent films. Pity he didn't make more. In the silent era he was rated highly,the only comedian to be really taken seriously by critics but Lloyd was a serious rival at the box office.

That has changed though in the decades since, there has been a bit of a Chaplin backlash because of the "forgotten" Keaton and Lloyd. I think now they are all pretty much on an even playing field with their major works all out on DVD. Whatever your preference is I don't think its too controversial to say Chaplin was the most important (possibly the greatest) comedian in film history.
I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with this controversial statement. Comparing Chaplin with Keaton and Lloyd, among others, is like comparing apples to oranges. I adore all 3 "biggies" but for different reasons. And if Chaplin is often playing his little tramp character, then Keaton is forever deadpanning and Lloyd is always playing his "glasses" character.

Keaton was a very simple man (read his biography) who, due to his unbelievably rough childhood growing up in vaudeville, had no fear of physical pain and was willing to do ANY stunt imaginable. His characters were exciting to watch (he always seemed to be running). He became incredibly wealthy but lost everything due to his complete lack of business sense and alcohol problem.

Lloyd was a man with incredible foresight (obtained the rights to all of his films and preserved them in private vaults). He remained wealthy his entire life. His movies were conventional, and he created a character that, I think, most people could easily identify with, an everyman. His movies almost always feature a fun chase scene using every mode of transportation available. I love Lloyd's later stuff, especially the movies he made with Jobyna Ralston. Also, try watching some of Lloyd's earlier work in the Lonesome Luke series (some of the most boring, obnoxious comedies ever made, in my opinion), and you'll find that his character in this was much more tiresome than the little tramp.

Chaplin's career began in comedy, but as things progressed, he was able to incorporate every emotion into his characters, so that his finished projects were more than mere comedies (nothing wrong with comedies); they were works of art. Look at City Lights for example. It makes me laugh many times, but at the end of the movie I'm bawling my eyes out because it is so beautiful.

One thing I like about Chaplin is that he was never afraid to thumb his nose at the system. His movies almost always attacked social problems head on. Case in point: The Great Dictator. This movie was made BEFORE we entered the WWII and he was already well enough informed of the problems abroad that he was able to make a spot on spoof of Hitler and Mussolini. Monsieur Verdoux (not at all the little tramp character) was another controversial topic. It dealt with a bluebeard who wooed rich women then murdered them so he could support his family. It's one of his most off-beat roles and undeniably funny.

Throughout Chaplin's movies you have beautiful soundtracks, which he wrote. He could seriously do it all.

I encourage you to take a second look at Chaplin and appreciate him for all his contributions. To say that his tramp outfit alone is worthy of all that praise, then yes, that is overrated. But all his works combined and that brilliant mind of his deserve all the praise they can get.
Wow Erin well said! You're right in that you have to look at Chaplin's whole output and what he contributed. He was a brilliant artist and gave not only his generation but hopefully generations after something worth revisiting afresh. Chaplin had the ability to draw you in and care for his character because of the depth of feelings and emotions he could bring you into. I never have felt that way about Keaton or Lloyd, although I enjoy them both, yet neither has ever reached me on the level that Chaplin does.

Kevin
While I won't go so far as to say that Chaplin is "overrated," I do agree that I find the films of both Keaton and Lloyd more entertaining from a purely comedic point of view, probably because neither of these artists chose to embue their films with Chaplin's completely-laudable but often-cloying social consciousness (He DOES avoid the racial and ethnic stereotyping that Keaton occasionally and Lloyd habitually fell back on for cheap laughs.) But if you asked me which film was better: THE GOLD RUSH, THE GENERAL or THE FRESHMAN, I cannot honestly say I would be able to answer--and as an earlier correspondent noted, how can three such different slapstick methods be compared?
I agree. I find it hard to laugh at any Keystone Comedy, including all of the Chaplin's. Excerpts from his later Essanay's are mildly amusing, but an entire film, for me, is unbearable. Llyod's wussy characters make me uncomfortable too, but his stuntwork is fun to watch. Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, and Charley Chase have more solid plots and gags, in my unprofessional opinion. Besides, their comedies are shorter and
therefore not tiresome.
In Germany..Do they ever show the german dialog versions of Our Gang and Laurel and Hardey?.The ones from the period of 1930 to early 1931where they used to have the practice of reshooting the films with differen't supporting actors and speaking in german?..They did them in German,French and Spanish..Many feature films were done this way too untill the practice was stopped before 1932...I'd love to see some of these..the spanish version of 1931-Dracula is about all we have here..
I wonder why none of these prints have been found?..Not only would they be great for people in those countries,but they'd also be a terrific bonus extra on the original english version DVDs...I'd especially like to hear what the our gang kids would sound like talking in french or german.. :o))

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