Charlie Chaplin – an Appreciation by Bruce Caraway

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Chaplin was one of the great film geniuses of all times – besides writing and directing his films, he composed much of their music. Yet many seem to have an impression that his films are “part of the past” and not very relevant for young people today.
In my opinion, Chaplin’s films are as relevant today as they were years ago. As far as humour is concerned, it’s hard to imagine anyone funnier than Chaplin. After seeing City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936). I came away wondering how I could still be so moved by movies I had seen four times. (These two films, along with The gold Rush, are probably Chaplin’s most popular works).

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             Charlie Chaplin – an Appreciation

                                  by Bruce Caraway



   Chaplin was one of the great film geniuses of all times – besides writing and directing his films, he composed much of their music. Yet many seem to have an impression that his films are “part of the past” and not very relevant for young people today.

   In my opinion, Chaplin’s films are as relevant today as they were years ago. As far as humour is concerned, it’s hard to imagine anyone funnier than Chaplin. After seeing City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936). I came away wondering how I could still be so moved by movies I had seen four times. (These two films, along with The gold Rush,   are probably Chaplin’s most popular works).

   These films transcend mere “funniness” and move into the realm of human dignity, of aspirations. After watching City Lights, probably one of the most hilarious films ever made, it’s not uncommon to hear people weeping profusely. And this is a film with a happy ending! Chaplin’s ability to mix humour with joy and sadness is uncanny and often evokes otherwise contradictory responses fro the audience.

   The cornball nature of Chaplin’s plots makes his artistic achievements that much greater. City Lights is about a tramp (Chaplin) who meets and falls in love with a blind woman sells flowers on the street. He also meets a millionaire bent on suicide. The millionaire spends his evening getting drunk and running abroad town with a tramp. Come mornings and sobriety, he has the tramp thrown out of his house.

   Meanwhile, the flower seller and her grandmother are getting evicted from their apartment. The tramp, whom the flower seller think is rich, vows to come up with the money for the rent and an eye operation. He does and ends up in jail. After his stay in jail, the tramp, more down and out than ever, reappears, passes by a prospering flower shop and notices…

   Modern Times takes place during the depression. It’s about an unemployed factory worker (Chaplin) and a young woman who has been supporting her unemployed father and two sisters by stealing. The father is killed in demonstration and her sisters are sent to an orphanage. She and the unemployed worker, now a tramp, accidentally meet and set our on a series of adventures. The tramp divides his time between jail and odd jobs. She lands a job in a café, only to be tracked down by a police who have a warrant for her arrest. They escape and continue their struggle to find job.


   City Lights and Modern Times portray the desperate struggle of poor people. Yet both are hilarious. The saying that the worst situations require some humour to help us get by is certainly alive in these movies. So is the belief that perseverance and dignity, kindness and decency, even innocence, will lead us to our goals – if only we don’t give up.

   “Dignity”, “Kindness”, “innocence”, words like these often evoke cynical remarks nowadays. Who would make a serious movie in Hollywood with a central character in possession of these traits? In many of today’s films, it’s hard to distinguish right from wrong, good from evil. Today’s world supposedly, is much too complex for such cut-and-dried dichotomies.

   But not for Chaplin. For him, the poor, personified by the tramp, are the heroes. And these heroes are not supermen. They are down-to-earth, hard-working people trying to hold their lives together. And most importantly, comes the end of the film, the tramp always prevails.

   Chaplin’s view of society in equally clear. The rich live a life of ease, surrounded by wealth, exploiting working people and ignoring the poor. Chaplin has sympathy for them. It’s clear whose side he is on. The lasting appeal of Modern Times and   City Lights is very much related to the appeal of their theme: No matter how hard life ay be, no matter how insurmountable the odds may appeat, those who keep on struggling are invincible.

                                                          . . .



   Charlie Chaplin made numerous films and some of them are shown from time to time. His most famous films are The Gold Rush, City Light, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator. The last is the parody of Hitler and departs from the “tramp” there. Limelight is a classic rarely shown today. Its distinctive quality is the tragic figure of the tragic figure of the clown plus a scene in which Chaplin and Buster Keaton pool their talents.

   If you haven’t seen these films, do so when you can. There is nothing like them in the world of comedy.


Appreciation - висока оцінка

Relevant – доречний, актуальний

As far as humour is concerned – щодо гумору

Wonder - дивуватися

Moved - зворушливий

The Gold Rush – «Золота лихоманка»

Transcend – переходити межі

Realm - сфера

Dignity - гідність

Aspiration - прагнення

Hilarious - веселий

It’s not uncommon – не дивно, що

Weep profusely – лити сльози

Uncanny - надзвичайний

Evoke - викликати

Otherwise - протилежний

Contradictory - суперечливий

Response - реакція

Cornball – слізливо-сентиментальний

Plot - сюжет

Tramp -   бродяга

Bend on suicide – що збирається учинити самогубство

Sobriety - тверезість

Evict - виселяти

Vow – давати обітницю

Down and out -  розорений; що зазнав краху в житті

Orphanage – притулок для сиріт

Accidentally - випадково

Odd job – випадкова, некваліфікована робота

Land a job – випадково знайти роботу

Track down – вистежити і спіймати

Warrant – ордер на арешт

Escape - тікати

Desperate - відчайдушний

Require - вимагати

Get by (got) – витримати, вистояти

Perseverance – наполегливість, стійкість

Decency - порядність

Innocence  - цнотливість

Give up (gave, given) – здаватися, поступатися

Be in possession - володіти

Trait – характерна риса

Distinguish - відрізнятися

Supposedly – за загальною думкою

Cut-and-dried - прямолінійний

Dichotomy - протиставлення

Prevail – перемагати , переживати

Sympathy - співчуття

Lasting - тривалий

Appeal - привабливий

Relate – мати відношення, стосуватися

Insurmountable - непереборний

Odds (pl.) – несприятливі умови, обставини

Invincible - непереможний

Depart – відходити (від чогось)

Limelight -  «Вогні рампи»

Distinctive – відмінний, характерний

Pool – об’єднувати, зливати





                         Marlon Brando. 1924-2004


   Marlon Brando, who died aged 80, was one of the finest Hollywood actors of his

generation. A raw presence who exuded sensitivity and savagery in equal measure, he burst into the Hollywood of Cary Grant and Gregory Peck, and changed in forever. Without Brando, there would have been no James Dean, no Robert De Niro, no Johny Depp. Yet his beauty – and muscular vitality – proved short-lived, and his reputation rested on very few films. To a younger generation, he was little more than a tabloid curiosity; monstrously overweight, isolated and beset by personal tragedy. The trouble, said David Thomson in The York Times, was that there was a “mixture of self-pity and self-destructiveness in Brando that could not endure the toxic diet of straight American success. His enormous appetites – for food, for sex and for money proved how free he was, and yet how childish he could be”.

   Marlon Brando was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1924. His father was a salesman with a violent temper; his mother  a drama coach and pillar of the Omaha Dramatic Society (it was she who encouraged the young Henry Fonda, another Nebraskan, to make acting his career). A talented actress in her own right, she was also a chronic alcoholic. “She was beautiful”, Brando said. “What a pity she spent most of her time on the floor.” Marlon, nicknamed “Bud”, grew up to loathe his father, and at 16, was sent to a  military academy to lean discipline. He was expelled for insubordination, but not before becoming a star of the school drama group. After a period in rep, he joined his sister, actress Jocelyn Brando, in New York, where he studied the “Method” under Stella Adler. Brando proved a natural: in one class, Adler asked her pupils to pretend to be chickens upon whom an atomic bomb is about to fall. While the rest of the students rushed around clucking madly, Brando sat quietly on his haunches, concentrating on laying an egg. What did a hen know about bombs, he reasoned? In those days, he was fascinated by acting. “Actors have to observe,” he said, “and I enjoy that part of it. They have to know how much spit you have in your mouth and where the weight of your elbows is. I could sit all day in the Optimo Cigar Store on Broadway and just watch the people go by.”

   Brando appeared in several plays on Broadway before being spotted by Elia Kazan, who recommended him for the role of Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. Although the play was supposedly the story of Blanch Du Bois, played by Jessica Tandy, “Brando was all anyone could talk about.” His mumbling, hyper-realistic style inspired a generation of actors, and his costume –

a torn T-shirt and tight jeans – become de rigueur for young men in the West. So real was his portrayal of the boorish Kowalski that people assumed he was simply playing himself. In fact, he detested the character, for his lack of self-doubt and aggressive brutality. “I made a study for guys like Kowalski,” he said. “You know, guys who work hard and have lots of flesh, having nothing supple about them. They never open their fist, really… They grip a cup of coffee like an animal would Streetcar, Brando never appeared on stage again.

   Brando’s Hollywood debut was in The Men (1950), playing a paraplegic war veteran. He prepared for the part by spending several weeks in a wheelchair. This was followed by the film version of Streetcar; it was a huge critical hit, but Brando lost the Oscar to Humphrey Bogart in African Queen. Later, he starred as a Mexican revolutionary in Viva Zapata!, and as a leather-clad biker rebel in The Wild One. He then took a different turn, playing Mark Antony in Julius Caesar, opposite the classically trained actors James Mason and John Gielgud. “There were

Snide comparisons made here,” said Philip French in The Observer, “but they were silenced (or should have been) when someone innocently asked: ‘Can you imagine Gielgud playing Stanley Kowalski?’” Finally, in 1954, he won his first Academy Award, as the washed-up boxer Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront. In one of cinema’s most famous speeches, said The Chicago Tribune, Brando summed up the failed dreams and anguish of generations of working-class Americans: “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it.”

   It seemed like the beginning of a golden career; in the event, however, it signaled the end of a brief fertile period. Brando was miscast in Guys and Dolls, and widely blamed for the expensive flop that was Mutiny on the Bounty. “ The man is unprofessional and completely ridiculous,” snapped co-star Trevor Howard. Never at one with Hollywood, Brando began to loathe it. “The only reason I’m here is that I don’t yet have the moral courage to turn down the money,” he said. The feeling was mutual. When Francis Ford Coppola was casting The Godfather, he was warned Brando was box office poison – a “vampire” in the words of one studio executive. At his screen test, however, Brando was unrecognizable: his hair greased with boot polish, he affected a raspy voice, and stuffed Kleenex into his mouth, to make himself look 20 years older than his 47 years. The studio bosses were won over, but would only give him $250, 000 – a fraction of what he could have earned a decade earlier. For his performance as Vito Corleone, Brando won

his second Oscar, but he was not reconciled to Hollywood, sent an American Indian actress to decline his award. She was booed off stage.

   In 1973 Brando appeared in the arthouse hit Last Tango in Paris. Briefly, he was back in favour, and in 1979 he was able to command a staggering $3.75 m for his ten-minute appearance in Superman. But it would not last. In 1979 he turned up on the set of Apocalypse Now, grossly overweight, shaven-headed and ill-prepared, said The Sunday Times. His on-screen appearances were limited to the final scenes when, photographed in deep shadow to hide his vast frame, he whispered, “the horror”. After that , he retreated to his island in the South Pacific, making only occasional appearances on film, largely for the money. Meanwhile, his personal life was disintegrating. A notorious sexual predator, Brando had at least 11 children.

   Brando spend his final years living in a bungalow on Mulholland Drive. He claimed to be broke, although there are indications he may have stashed away up to $200m. His disdain for Hollywood – and his profession – lasted to the end. “Acting is the expression of a neurotic impulse,” he once said. “It’s bum’s life. Quitting acting, that’s the sign of maturity.”


First impressions of a screen legend

Tennessee Williams, playwright

    “I first met Marlon Brando in 1947 when I was casting Streetcar. I had very little money at the time and was living simply in a brokendown house near Provincetown [Mass.]. I had a houseful of people, the plumbing was flooded, and someone had blown the light fuse. Someone said a kid named Brando was down on the beach and looked good. He arrived at dusk, wearing, Levi’s took one look at the confusion around hi, and set to work. First he stuck his hand into the overflowing toilet bowl and unclogged the drain, then he tackled the fuses .Within an hour, everything worked. You’d think he had spent his entire antecedent life repairing drains. Then he read the script aloud, just as he played it. It was the most magnificent reading I ever heard, and he had the part [of Stanley Kowalski] immediately. He stayed the night, slept curled up with an old quilt in the centre of the floor.”

    From “The Week”


Raw сл. вульгарний

Presence -  зовнішній вигляд

Exude - випромінювати

Savagery - лютість

Burst - урівнювати

Rest on – триматися

Tabloid - амер. бульварна газета

Curiousity - дивовижа

Beset - обсідати

Destructiveness – знищення, руйнування

Coach - учитель

Pillar – фіг. опора

In her own right – сама по собі

Bud – ласк. крихітка

Loathe - ненавидіти

Rep = repetition театр. сл. репетиція

Cluck - кудкудакати

Sit on one’s haunches – сидіти навпочіпки

Fascinated - захоплений

Spit - слина

De rigueur – фр. тут. приклад

Boorish - грубий

Supple – м’який, гнучкий

Paw - лапа

Paraplegic - паралізований

Hit - успіх

Clad - одягнений

Rebel - бунтар

Snide – фальшивий, нечесний

Anguish – душевна мука

Class -  сл. «клас», шик

Contender - претендент

Bum – амер. сл. дармоїд

In the event – у кінцевому результаті

Fertile - благодатний

Miscast – не взяти на роль

Flop  – амер. сл. провал

Snap– фіг. огризатися

Box office – театральна каса

Grease - змащувати

Affect - імітувати

Raspy - деренчливий

Stuff – напихати, наповнювати

Fraction- крихта

Reconcile -  примиряти

Boo of stage – шиканням прогнати зі сцени

Command – мати в своєму розпорядженні

Staggering – розм. приголомшливий

Set – знімальний майданчик

Frame -   сл. тіло

Predator - хижак

Broke - розорений

Stash away  - сл. приховати

Disdain - зневажати

Fuse - запобіжник

Confusion - безладдя

Toilet bowl – унітаз

Clog - забивати


Drains - каналізація

Tackle – братися за (щось)

Antecedent – попередній, минулий

Curl up - загорнутися

Quilt – стьобана ковдра







    “Her life was extra-ordinary rich and varied. She lived her fifty years what other people might in ten lives”

                                             Mills Martin, childhood friend.



                          VIVIEN LEIGH


   Although Vivien Leigh’s Christian name is often misspelled by journalists, it was never too cardinal an error since the marvelous actress had actually been christened Vivian shortly after her birth in Darjeeling, India, on November 5th, 1913, Like Scarlet O’Hara, Vivian had a partial Irish and Roman Catholic heritage.

She was educated, as a child, in convents in England after her family returned there in 1920.

   The young Vivian showed enthusiasm for performing as early as her seventh year and soon thereafter decided to become an actress. Quite in accordance with

this, she enrolled in the Academy of Dramatic Art directly  upon  completion of her formal schooling in London and Paris. An early marriage to English barrister Herbert Leigh Holman in 1932 and motherhood late the following year interrupted these studies. Yet within another year Mrs. Holman had successfully entered the  British films industry, making her debut  with a minor role in a comedy about a girls’ school entitled “Things Are Looking Up”. And with this new career came an even more significant change: Mrs. Holman Changed the spelling of her name to Vivien an adopted her husband’s middle name, Leigh, as her professional one.

   The London film colony was not too devastated by young Vivien Leigh in 1935, although she did secure parts in three more films, “The Village Squire”, “Gentleman’s Agreement”, “Look Up and Laugh”. However, after obtaining an important stage role in “The Mask of Virtue” and receiving highly favourable reviews, she attracted the attention of famed produce Alexander Korda, who placed the twenty-two-year-old actress under contrast to London Films and cast her as lady-in- waiting in “Fire Over England”, a historical drama of Queen Elizabeth 1. Vivien Leigh came to know another cast member, Laurence Olivier, and one of the most famous love stories of the last century had its beginning. These more films for Mr. Korda followed: ”Dark Journey” with Conrad Veidt, “Storm in a Teacup” with Rex Harrison and “The First and the Last” with Mr. Olivier. The last of these was completed in 1937 but, for one reason or another, was not granted a general release.

   But Vivien could not be too concerned with that small disappointment since her Korda contract allowed outside stage work, her friendship with Laurence Olivier had become romantic reality and Metro-Golgwin- Mayer was seeking her services.

That mammoth American’s enterprise had set up studio facilities in Denham, England, and the first there was “A Yank at Oxford”, starring Hollywood’s Robert Taylor. Although cast in a supporting role as an unfaithful wife, Vivien realized  that this film would receive more worldwide exposure that any of her previous movies had. And there was another hidden reason. A book had been published in England in late 1036 – following its phenomenal acceptance in the United State – about a young woman’s struggle throughout the American Civil war. A motion picture version would soon be made and the leading role was one that many determined actresses were playing for.

   “A Yank at Oxford”, released in early 1938, received the attention and reviews Vivien had hoped for and did, by no means, go unnoticed by producer David O.Selznick.

   In 1938, Vivien went to the US to see her lover Laurence Olivier who was filming “Withering Heights” (she had left her husband in 1937). While visiting Olivier, Vivien had good luck to happen upon the Selznick brothers who were filming the burning of Atlanta for the film “Gone with the Wind” based on Margaret Mitchell’s novel. The role of Scarlett O’Hara had yet to be cast and she was invited to take part in a screen test for the role. There had already been much talk in Hollywood about who was to be cast as Scarlett. There were some big names that had tried for the part, namely – Norma Shearer, Katharine Hepburn and Paulette Goddard. In fact, most in the entertainment circles felt that Miss Goddard was a sure bet for the part. However, four days after the screen test, Vivien was informed that she had landed the coveted slot. The rest as they say is history. The film became one of the most celebrated in the annals of cinema. Not only did it win Best Picture during the Academy Awards, but Vivien won for Best Actress. Already she won a household name. In 1940, she made two films “Waterloo Bridge” and “21 Days”, though neither approached the magnetism of GWTW. That same year saw Vivien marry Olivier and together they appeared in “That Hamilton Woman” in 1941. There would be only six ore films in the years left to Vivlin (as her friends called her),  “Caesar and Cleopatra”, “Anna Karenina”, “A streetcar named Desire”, “The Deep Blue Sea”, “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone” (Vivien was no longer Lady Olivier when she performed her last major role) and “Ship of Fools”, but one of them, ”, “A streetcar named Desire”, in which she once again played  an American Southerner, would bring her into the select circle of performers twice honoured by the Academy Awards. However, there was a vast amount of stage work, including much with Sir Laurence Olivier, and a Broadway “Tony” Award. There was illness too, both physical and emotional, dimming perhaps the body’s ability but never the spirit.

   Vivien die on July 8th, 1967, at the age of 53 after a sever beat of tuberculosis.



                                                                     From the “Internet”






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