The month to appreciate the career of Charlie Chaplin has overstayed its welcome, but its finally time to wrap things up. I am with the majority of people who believe that Chaplin hit his peak at the end of the silent era. Everybody has their own Chaplin favorite and you can vote for yours after the jump. Here are my top 8 Charlie Chaplin films:
8) A Woman of Paris (1923)
A rare dramatic film from Chaplin’s early days that was badly received when initially released, but gained new life when rediscovered decades later. The acting is superb from leading lady Edna Purviance in this moral tale about the conflict between love and money.
The rest after the jump…
7) Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
Often described as a film that was way ahead of its time, it is also the film that caused Chaplin to leave America. Its brilliant satire and clever approach to a risky subject proved that Chaplin is smarter than your average filmmaker. (Full Review)
6) The Great Dictator (1940)
Perhaps the best example of how forward thinking Chaplin was with this pre-World War II film that is as poignant as many holocaust films that were released decades later. He masterfully manages to portray the real-life tragedy with humor and pathos.
5) The Gold Rush (1925)
Chaplin at his most lovable as the tramp who earnestly attempts to gain a fortune. It features some heartbreaking moments between his tramp character and the leading lady played by Georgia Hale. It is many people’s favorite Chaplin movie of all time, but I think the experience was slightly ruined for me because I saw the 1942 version where Chaplin removed the title cards and inserted awkward narration.
4) The Circus (1928)
It’s not one of Chaplin’s most complex narratives, but easily one of his top 2 0r 3 funniest films. This comes right at the end of the silent era and has some of this best bits ever put on film as well as his own critique on what makes great comedy. (Full Review)
3) The Kid (1921)
Charlie Chaplin’s first feature length film remains one of his best. The hapless tramp mistakenly adopts a baby and raises it to the best of his ability. The film features one of the greatest on-screen duos of all time between Chaplin and child star Jackie Coogan leading up to an emotional separation and rescue. (Full Review)
2) City Lights (1931)
One of the greatest romances in film history between Chaplin’s tramp and the blind flower seller. Right from the tramp’s hilarious introduction, there is never a boring moment in this silent story of indiscriminate love. It features great bits including the boxing scene and the role reversal rescue between Chaplin and the drunk businessman.
1) Modern Times (1936)
The boldness that it must have taken to make an essentially silent film almost a decade after sound was introduced to movies, combined with the brilliant social commentary, and some of the best slapstick gags ever seen on film are what make this film my favorite Chaplin movie of all time. The realism of a job that is being overwhelmed with technology transforms into pure escapism as Chaplin and actress Paulette Godard roller skate through a department store. There may not be a better film that sums up Chaplin’s attitude toward life – that things move to fast and there is true beauty in simplicity.
Those are my favorites, which ones are yours? Post your top 8 (or so) in the comments and vote for your favorite on the poll below!