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Charlie Chaplin  




Archway, 1957.  Directed by Charlie Chaplin.  Camera:  Georges Perinal.  With Charlie Chaplin, 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 Limelight 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