Charlie Chaplin (1951)

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cc 120 that not even the players knew what the story was about. This secrecy was made necessary by the lifting of his gags by other comedians who reached the screen with them before his own picture was finished. Through the years Chaplin's hunt for new ideas has kept him tense and anxious. As early as 1915 he feared loss of his fame. In moments of depression he has ex- claimed, "I must get back to work—but I don't feel like it. I don't feel funny. Think—think of it: if I never could be funny again!" In dull spells he would tell him- self, "You're through. You've lost your creative streak for good!" But a couple of days in bed mulling over the problem would bring a solution. As he once told Max Eastman, "There's no u se just si tting down and waiting for inspiration. You've got to play along. The main thing you've got to do is preserve your vitality. A couple of day s of complete rest a nd solitude helps. Not seeing any - body. I even conserve my emotions. Tm not going to get excited about anybody or anything,' I say, 'until I get this gag worked out.' I go along that way, living a quiet, righteous life, and then I stay out late one night and have a couple of drinks—perhaps all night—and the next morning the reserve pours out. But you've got to have that reserve. Dissipation is no use except as a release. You've been damming it up inside of you, and all of a sudden you say: 'Oh, there it is!' And then you go to work." In an early interview Chaplin said of comedy: "It is really a serious study, although it must not be taken seriously. . . . To make a comedy a success there must be an ease, a spontaneity in the acting that cannot be associated with seriousness. . . . Even in slapstick there is an art. If one man hits another in a certain way at ex- actly the right psychological moment, it is funny. If he does it a moment too late, it misses the mark." It also matters who is the recipient of slapstick action. In the