Charlie Chaplin (1951)

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Chaplin and politics 289 agree to disagree and let it go at that and remain friends." His classic reply to reporters who, in 1921, asked if he was a Bolshevik was: "I am an artist. I am interested in life. Bolshevism is a new phase of life. I must be in- terested in it." On his 1921 trip to Europe he met H. G. Wells and others who took a strong interest in social problems. His next intellectual influence after Eastman, however, was the sculptor Clare Sheridan. She had just returned from Russia and had met leaders of the new regime. In her frank ''My American Diary," she thus characterizes Chaplin: "He is not Bolshevik nor Communist, nor Revo- lutionary, as I had heard rumored. He is an individualist with the artist's intolerance of stupidity, insincerity and narrow prejudice"; adding, "he was rather scornful about the sentimentalism of my revolutionary ideals." Chaplin advised her, "Don't get lost on the path of propaganda. Live your life as an artist . . . the other goes on—al- ways. . . ."—advice he himself failed to follow in the forties. In the early twenties, as the actor began to make fewer pictures and became more leisurely, he had gatherings of artists and intellectuals, Upton Sinclair among them, in his home. Except for his succession of girl friends and Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Chaplin min- gled little with the movie crowd. According to his publicity man, Carl Robinson, the actor liked to call himself a socialist. Sam Goldwyn, in his "Behind the Screen," records that mention of a new "ism" or "ology" brought Chaplin loping from the far- thest corner of the room. "His prejudice is against any- thing which interferes with his own personal freedom. The censor, the income tax, any supposed obstruction— these are hateful to him in the degree to which they in- fringe upon that coveted sense of power."