Charlie Chaplin (1951)

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Chaplin's method 119 tactful and kindly business manager being the main spoke in the wheel whose hub was Chaplin. Then there was loyal Henry Bergman whose two interests in life were Chaplin and his restaurant. Laughing when the master laughed and brooding when the master brooded—Chap- lin once cracked, "He'd kiss me if I'd let him." Besides old reliables from his stage days, technical experts, "stooges," and court jesters, Chaplin would hire bright young men like Monta Bell and Eddie Sutherland for a picture or two. If one of the "clique" had an idea or sug- gestion to make, he was careful to let the boss think it was his own, the usual device being to say: "I was just think- ing of that gag you told me about, Charlie—it's a good one. . . ." Once the idea was lodged in Chaplin's mind, he was impatient to start work and, as soon as the sets were ready, plunged in with his tireless energy. Chaplin's ar- rival in his car for the day's work, at least in the early days, was the signal for considerable ceremony on the part of the staff—the deference accorded a king. Eddie Sutherland, an assistant director in the mid-twenties, claimed he could tell the boss's mood by the clothes he arrived in. A dark green suit evidenced a heavy mood— trouble ahead. A blue suit with pin stripes was the sign of a good mood—a good day when he was approachable and some fine scenes could be expected to be made. A gray suit signaled an in-between mood. The staff and players had to feel their way until a definite mood developed. Often Chaplin would be late or would disappear for days, sometimes for solitude in figur- ing out some angle in the picture. But his staff would turn up regularly at nine and wait until they were certain the boss was not coming. During the actual shooting Chaplin allowed few visi- tors on the set. The people who worked for him guarded the details like military secrets. Chaplin often shot so