Form and Content
As its title suggests, David Jacobs’ Chaplin, the Movies, and Charlie deals with three closely interrelated subjects: the biography of actor Charles Chaplin; the development of motion pictures, with which he was deeply involved; and the evolution of “Charlie” or “The Little Tramp,” the screen character with whom he is identified.
Jacobs begins with a brief description of Chaplin’s arrival in Hollywood in 1913, then flashes back to devote two chapters to the great comedian’s truly pitiful childhood as the son of struggling music hall entertainers in England. When Jacobs resumes his narrative of Chaplin’s early days in Hollywood, he presents an informative assessment of the state of film comedy at that time. He explains how Chaplin’s experience as a music hall comedian motivated him to bring a more subtle form of comedy to the screen at a time when the standard consisted of pie-throwing and crude visual gags.
Chapter by chapter, Jacobs follows Chaplin’s meteoric career as a film comedian. Being a perfectionist, both as a performer and as a filmmaker, Chaplin had a power-ful influence on everyone who was involved in making motion pictures. Jacobs describes many of Chaplin’s films in considerable detail, emphasizing the comedian’s instinctive understanding of the potentialities of this new art form.
Jacobs carefully explains the evolution of Chaplin’s alter ego: his character Charlie, the courageous...
(The entire section is 494 words.)