True, most 13 year-olds don’t list Charlie Chaplin as one of their favorite actors. Yes, I was peculiar, but it did give me something. It gave me a jump start on seeing nearly everyone of his films. I still have yet to see a handful (A King in New York and other minor works), but I have seen the bulk of his filmography and with that introduction, I give you: (In my opinion) his top 5 movies.
Chaplin took his tramp character out for riches in what Chaplin often desired to be his most memorable film. Set during the Klondike (Not California) Gold Rush, the Tramp gets stranded, chased by a hallucinating partner, and gets rejected by the girl. This could be the one that comes to everyone’s minds when they think of Chaplin. The Gold Rush included classic scenes like the balancing cabin, the giant chicken scene, and, of course, where he proceeds to eat his shoe.
Charlie got all allegorical in ’36 with his story about humanity and the rise of the machine. Not as many classic scenes as The Gold Rush, (although sliding through the giant gears is right up there) but the story is the star in this one. Chaplin, who would later do more of the same, used the situation around him (The Great Depression) and made everyone laugh. Just the Tramp doing what he did best.
This was were he showed just how hard he could pull on the heartstrings. In his usual Tramp style, he falls in love with a blind beggar girl. However, due to some misunderstandings she thinks he is extremely rich. Thanks to his diligence and hard work, the Tramp saves enough money to pay for a surgery that will give her sight. In Shakespearean fashion, she isn’t interested once she realizes who he really is. Pure tragedy.
This is one of my favorite movies period. In a classic case of mistaken identity, the Tramp (this time as a Jewish Barber) is somehow misled into taking the place of Adenoid Hynkel, the leader of Tomania (in case you’re an idiot, IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE HITLER!). Not only does it make you laugh, but it makes you think. Especially because, during its release, Germany and the States were still at peace.
The quintessential Charlie Chaplin movie; The Kid covers both the comedy and the pathos of heartbreak. The storyline is quite simple, poor man raises child, government tries to take him. But the originality used in the humorous scenes is unreal. Add the terrific scenes with “the Kid”, Jackie Coogan, and this silent turns into Chaplin’s best film.