Countdown: Charlie Chaplin’s best moments as “The Tramp” (#05 – 01)

…the countdown continued:

05) Celebration – The Gold Rush (1925)


Charlie Chaplin caught in a fit of glee from The Gold Rush (1925)

As evidenced by the last entry, I really love it when Chaplin surprises the audience with a sudden comical reaction, and that is also what happens in this scene. The tramp maintains his poise as Georgia and her friends leave, and then suddenly tumbles and whirls all around the cabin as he bursts with glee. How Georgia comes back for her gloves, which she of course forgot, and sees the result of the tramps joyous rampage is a magnificent touch.

04) Nervous Breakdown / Inside The Machine – Modern Times (1936)

Charlie Chaplin inside the machine in Modern Times (1936)

Not only is this a funny scene in the way that Chaplin acts like a crazed maniac, but it’s also a gorgeous display of art direction for its time once he gets sucked into the machine. It’s also ultimately Chaplin’s commentary on man’s growing reliance on technology, how the pace of life is increasing rapidly (and this was decades ago!), and how man is being figuratively “sucked into the machine.” So this is a great sequence that works so well on several layers.

03) Mirror Maze – The Circus (1928)

Charlie Chaplin in a chase sequence inside the Mirror Maze from The Circus (1928)

Just a very cleverly put together treat for the eyes and pristinely choreographed. Not so great for the laughs, but it nails Chaplin’s penchant for visual artistry quite perfectly.

02) Oceana Dinner Roll Dance – The Gold Rush (1925)

Charlie Chaplin doing the Oceana Dinner Roll Dance in The Gold Rush (1925)

In one of the many verisons of this clip on YouTube, one commenter says something to the effect of: “If there were one minute of footage that mankind can send out to outer space with the hopes of charming and winning over any intelligent life that it may come across out in the vastness, this would be it,” and it’s true, as this may be the single most charming minute of footage on any Chaplin film, ever. Not only is it charming on its own; but in the context of the film, it also captures so succintly the sad reality of the tramp’s situation alone in that cabin on New Year’s eve.

01) “Yes, I can see now.” – City Lights (1931)

Charlie Chaplin in the final scene from City Lights (1931)

When the girl and the tramp look at each other and exchange words:

“You can see now?”

“Yes, I can see now.”

…we know that they’re not just talking about her eyes.

I may not have loved City Lights as much as its reputation says I should, but if there’s one thing to be said about it… my god, that ending. It is quite simply one of the highest points in movies, a great example of beautifully subtle acting, and among the finest and most heartwarming moments in cinema.

 Marathon Score: 84/100


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