Charlie Chaplin (1951)

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Chaplin's method 117 grounds or people, with the slight twists which render them funny or pathetic. Working independently in his own studio and not un- der the rigid routine of a large corporation, operating on a small overhead and with no five-thousand-a-week sala- ries, Chaplin could afford to take his time and work ac- cording to his mood. With only a rudimentary idea in his head he concocted the story as he went along. Some pictures changed completely in the course of production. He improvised a scene or a series of gags, then discussed the results the next day in the projection room. A bit might be used or all of it might be reshot; or the whole project might be scrapped and some other idea sub- stituted. Since overrehearsing sometimes causes stilted action, Chaplin photographed scenes over and over in his striv- ing for perfection. In "The Count" he is said to have spent three weeks on the scene where, dancing with the heroine, he kicks his former boss and whirls the girl around as his giant rival tries to retaliate. A simple ef- fect in appearance—yet it involved hiring a band, learn- ing certain dance steps, perfecting certain facial expres- sions, timing the action with the moving camera, etc. In "A Woman of Paris" many scenes were shot fifty times—and one difficult scene went to over two hundred takes. Adolphe Menjou, in his book "It Took Nine Tai- lors," describes the shooting of a kiss in that picture. In his case the kiss had to show passion, yet avoid any indi- cation that he was in love; in Edna Purviance's case it had to appear that it was not repulsive to her yet to show that she was unhappy. The two had to go through about a hundred kisses before Chaplin was satisfied. In "City Lights" the meeting of the blind flower girl and the tramp took months before the variation that sat- isfied Chaplin was reached. The scene had to reveal both why the girl believed the tramp to be a millionaire and