My Autobiography

My Autobiography

Book - 1964
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Publisher: New York, Simon and Schuster [1964]
Characteristics: 512 pages,illustrations, portraits,25 cm.


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Sep 05, 2018

A very good autobiography. Chaplin's vivid memories of late Victorian London are worth the price alone, as are the chapters on his exile from the United States. However, the middle flags a bit, with Chaplin bragging about seeing the Duchess of So-and-So at Mr. So-and-So's dinner party and things like that.

I love Chaplin as an artist and my favorite passages were his ideas about art, cinema, and camera placement (he does have a borderline curmudgeonly attitude toward the maverick young filmmakers of the 1960s, but at least his arguments were based on his preference of simplicity in cinematography over what he considered needless flash, which I can respect). However, he does have a persistent snob streak throughout that is a bit annoying, as are his rather dismissive attitudes toward some of the more assertive women in his life (he claims it was unfortunate that such a "pretty" woman as Mary Pickford was businesslike and domineering). I'm not saying he was a raging sexist, but that undercurrent of "how dare this little woman try to tell me what to do" is there regardless.

In the end, though, this is a good psychological portrait of one of the great cinematic artists. Even if I could have used less name-dropping and more discussion of his art, it gives you a lot of information about how he viewed himself and his world, and that is all an autobiography ever truly needs to be.

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