Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Charlie Chaplin vs. America:
The Tramp was given his walking papers.
The story of when Charlie Chaplin got barred from returning to the U.S. after World War II.
Fact for Non-History People:
Chaplin learned sign language to better converse with an artist he hired for his studio.
Fact for History Nerds:
Stan Laurel, of Laurel & Hardy fame, was Chaplin’s understudy early in their careers.
My Take on Charlie Chaplin vs. America:
For once, I have read a book on a “complicated” actor and didn’t hate them by the end of it. The author of this miracle is Scott Eyman, and his book is Charlie Chaplin vs. America.
Eyman takes a look at the life of Chaplin mainly around the time when the U.S. decided he was a communist and needed to be kept as far away from America as possible. This is still very much a biography of Chaplin and anyone who only knows the Little Tramp will learn a lot about Charlie Chaplin and his process. He was a genius and a perfectionist. He was also kind of a jerk and could cut people off at a moment’s notice. Warm except when he was cold. Eyman makes an excellent case that Chaplin was everything in the dictionary expect a communist.
Eyman has written many books on celebrities, and he is clearly comfortable in this genre. He knows when to focus on the little things which make someone tick. He also knows when to name drop someone to add a little spice to the narrative. If you gave me 1,000 guesses, I never would have suspected Walter Matthau would show up in this book. It’s a great book and reading it is a breeze. Pardon me while I go watch The Kid.
(This book was provided an advance copy by Netgalley and Simon & Schuster.)
A great read for anyone and everyone. Buy it here!