His Dark Materials
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Chaplinâ(TM)s last starring vehicle (and penultimate directing effort) is a satirical swipe at the country that just kicked him out (for communist sympathies and moral transgressions). He plays a European king who has escaped a revolution by fleeing to New York City where he discovers that he is broke, having been fleeced by a member of his government. To make ends meet (staying in the Ritz Hotel), he starts endorsing products and starring in TV commercials (falling into this rather fortuitously). On one of his charitable visits to a boysâ(TM) school he meets a kid whose parents are communists (eventually sentenced to prison by HUAC); when he ends up looking after the boy (played by his real son Michael Chaplin) when heâ(TM)s run away from the school, he too is accused of being a communist (ironic since he is a royalist). These are the basic facts of the plot, but as usual with Chaplin the film is more or less a series of gags sewn together hanging on this loose structure. The Americans seen in the film are often gauche, obsessed with body hygiene (âyou are giving me a complex!â?), and, of course, insanely concerned about communism. Chaplinâ(TM)s script takes potshots at TV, widescreen films, plastic surgery, the atomic bomb, and more. Perhaps it isnâ(TM)t always funny and probably it doesnâ(TM)t always cohere â" but there is enough here to keep you interested and Chaplin is never less than charismatic. And, at the end, when you discover that the young boy has been forced to name names to get his parents out of prison, you feel that Chaplin has sadly hit the bullseye (and he looks directly at the camera to let you know he knows). That said, this film fails to scale the heights of Monsieur Verdoux (1947), his last great (and very dark) masterpiece.
Chaplin's A KING IN NEW YORK is the most honest and realistic depiction of America ever produced for the silver screen. It benefits from a brilliant screenplay and a Chaplin on his game.
A King in New York (1957) ?? 1/2
European monarch seeks shelter in New York City where he unexpectedly becomes celebrity and is wrongly accused of being a communist. Chaplin makes fun of American sensibilities, but the film is overindulgent and lacks focus. This has some great gags and ideas, but this is not, alas, a great film. Charlies' real life son Michael plays the main kid here.
A hilarious and confidently acted talkie film from Charlie Chaplin that not only still shows his classic "tramp"ness, but acts as a satirizing commentary on sound and the American media.
A thinly veiled critique on America, A King in New York in Chaplin's final film role, not liked in the U.S. but an underrated comedy. The charm is on, as Chaplin plays a dethroned king who has lost everything, and is trying to gain funds when he becomes a media star. Prophetic in predicting reality television, the movie is more political than funny, but underrated Chaplin is better than no Chaplin.
The Part 2 of Chaplin's swan song focused more on his exile in a satirical form, while also on his past best works - "The Kid," "The Gold Rush," "The Great Dictator," "City Lights," etc. - being part of the feature-length homage as this was his last starring role with a masterful send-off and timeless comics that are blended with the homage but on other silent comedies. While it's a black and white talkie, it's a nice send-off to both Chaplin and the silent comedies in a deserved fashion. What a treat to watch. (B+)
(Full review coming soon)
Once Chaplin could talk, he got really preachy. I don't mind the comedic observation of advertising, reality television (in 1957, no less), and plastic surgery, but when a third of the plot revolves around Communism, I tend to check out . . .
A comedy that's not funny, the satire is thin and obvious, Chaplin's kid is really annoying, and there's nothing here that's up to Chaplin's old standards. Not being able to film in his usual slow style really shows here.
This Chaplin talkie has some amusing commentary on American culture that is still relevant today. But like several of Chaplin's later films, it gets a little too preachy. See Sacha Baron Cohen's "The Dictator" for a more modern take.
I feel a little like a movie snob for saying this, but A King in New York is minor Charles Chaplin.