chapter  5
24 Pages

Between Churchill and Gandhi: A comedian sees the world

ByRichard Carr

This chapter considers the international influences on Charlie Chaplin's thought in the crucial years after the Wall Street Crash. If socially conservative America was beginning to baulk both at Chaplin's politics and his womanising, the man himself was about to re-assert some profoundly transnational connections. In artistic terms Chaplin's views were always more developed than, for example, his nineteenth-century predecessor Charles Dickens. As with much of Chaplin's cinematic work, 1931's City Lights was the means and not the end. Chaplin started pre-production on City Lights in early 1928, albeit soon halted after the death of his mother on 28 August that year. For thirteen years Chaplin rode out the talking storm, helped in large part by the fact that his immense wealth meant that he did not need to make many pictures, and his independence through United Artists meant that there were no executives to face down in any boardroom.