Lisa Stein Explains Charlie Chaplin’s Enduring Appeal

Lisa Stein, Charlie Chaplin Aficionado

Lisa Stein first developed her interest in Charlie Chaplin in middle school in Ohio. At lunch, she used to watch old comedy movies, including Chaplin’s silent films.

Chaplin’s Little Tramp character is an old British music hall character that Chaplin introduced to American audiences. Lisa reckons that silent films are easier for the viewer to project his/herself into.

The Little Tramp is a hodge podge character that is both gentrified and tattered. He comes into every movie with nothing and leaves the same way. Through the movies, however, Chaplin’s character triumphs over authority and, in a way, because a symbol for America and American ingenuity.

Ironically, Chaplin is revered outside the United States more than he is in the States. He is particularly renowned in Europe—especialy France, Japan and India.

Chaplin’s famous films include Modern Times (1936), City Lights (1931), The Immigrant (1917), The Gold Rush (1925), and The Great Dictator (1940). Modern Times is the first film in which Chaplin inserts social commentary.

If there is one overridding theme in Chaplin films, it’s hope. Almost all of the films are hopeful—which Lisa figures is part of their enduring value.

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Lisa is also writing the first life-and-art study of Charlie’s half-brother, Syd Chaplin, who was himself an interesting figure.

To hear the entire interview, click below.