Archway, 1957. Directed by
Charlie Chaplin. Camera:
Georges Perinal. With
Dawn Addams, Oliver Johnston, Michael Chaplin, Maxine Audley, Jerry Desmond,
Phil Brown, Harry Green, John McLaren, Alan Gifford, Shani Wallis, Joy
Nichols, Joan Ingram, Sidney James, George Woodbridge, Robert Arden, Lauri
Lupino-Lane, George Truzzi.
King Shahdov (Charles
Chaplin) of Estrovia is forced to flee his country when a
revolution against the monarchy occurs. He comes to the United
States and, although he has no money, he finds many benefactors who,
attracted by his royal title, are quite willing to support him.
A young girl (Dawn Addams) in television advertising suggests that
Shahdov make television commercials for various products, but he is
not the best choice for this type of work because of his aversion to
certain products. For instance, while doing a liquor
commercial, he begins coughing after drinking the product.
A young boy named Rupert (Michael Chaplin) runs away from school
when his parents are called before a committee investigating their
political affiliations. When Shahdov takes the boy under his
wing, he too is called to appear before the committee. He
gets his finger caught in a fire hose outside the committee room and
is forced to take it in with him. The hose goes off and
showers everyone in sight. Shahdov is cleared by the committee
of any connection with political movements. To help his
parents, Rupert gives the committee the names of his parents'
political associates. Shahdov decides to settle in Europe with
his wife (Maxine Audley).
What was said about A King in New York:
Films in Review (Jan Wahl)
In addition to its polemics
against McCarthyism, A King in New York burlesques the absurdities
of television, the grossness of glamorizing plastic surgery, rock 'n
'roll, Hollywood's stupider products, and big business.
Chaplin's pantomime in this film is but a glimmer of his once great
gift. The best bits: 1) telling a waiter he wants
caviar, amid the deafening cacophony of a jazz combo, by mimicking a
sturgeon gulping under water, slitting its side, scooping out the
eggs, spreading them on toast, eating with enthusiasm; 2) indicating
turtle soup by a hand, covered with an inverted saucer, crawling
across the table; 3) after having his face lifted, sitting
poker-faced lest he burst his stitches while a nightclub audience
howls with laughter at two performing comics.
Sight and Sound (Penelope Houston)
His new film, A King in New York, is for me as much of a failure as
Monsieur Verdoux and
were successes. Those were flawed masterpieces; this seems a
failure that occasionally—but only occasionally—touches the edge of
brilliance. And it is a film that appears at once important
and of little lasting account: immensely revealing and discussible,
as any work of Chaplin's must be, and at the same time a picture by
which one would no more consider judging its creator than one would
judge Shaw by one of his very late plays. Will there be other
films from the greatest of our creators of comedy? Chaplin's
career as a performer goes back to the nineties, his career in films
began fifty years ago. We would suppose that the record ends
here, yet there are persistent rumors that another film is in the
process of incubation. Only a few years ago, Chaplin said, "I
suppose I shall always be a bit of film. I like making
pictures and I like acting in them and I always will."
The Films of Charlie Chaplin,
by Gerald McDonald, Michael
Conway and Mark Ricci
Bonanza Books, New York 1965
Additional photos courtesy of Gary