chapter  8
33 Pages

Comrades and controversy

ByRichard Carr

Although the FBI had been tracking Chaplin's activities since 1922, it was only in the mid-1930s that the suspicion many had in Washington regarding Charlie's motives was publicly formalised. With the loose talks he threw around between 1920s and 1930s, Chaplin had two options: denounce his friends and publicly renounce some of his apparent political views, or leave America. On 18 May 1942, Chaplin gave a speech in aid of Russian War Relief in San Francisco. Taking to the stage wearing a rather incongruous black tie and dinner jacket, he began a speech with a single word: 'Comrades!'. In October 1942 in a speech at Carnegie Hall, New York Charlie praised Roosevelt for having released the communist leader Earl Browder from prison. On 11 April 1947 Chaplin released Monsieur Verdoux – the first film since 1923 where he played no version of the Tramp character. By the early 1950s Charlie's enemies were closing in on him.