Charlie Chaplin

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I remain just one thing, and one thing only — and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, KBE (16 April 188925 December 1977) was a British comedic actor and director, usually known by his stage name of Charlie Chaplin.

Quotes[edit]

My prodigious sin was, and still is, being a non-conformist.
I am what I am: an individual, unique and different.
I am an individual and a believer in liberty. That is all the politics I have.
Look up to the sky
You'll never find rainbows
If you’re looking down.
  • I am at peace with God; my conflict is with man.
    • Monsieur Verdoux (1947). Chaplin's answer as a Verdoux that is to be guillotined and receives a visit from a priest who tell him 'I've come to ask you to make your peace with God'. "Comedy Quotes from the Movies" (2001), Larry Langman, Paul Gold, Ed. McFarland, p. 274
  • I am for people. I can't help it.
    • As quoted in The Observer [London] (28 September, 1952)
  • I remain just one thing, and one thing only — and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.
    • As quoted in The Observer (17 June 1960)
  • I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the make-up made me feel the person he was. I began to know him, and by the time I walked onto the stage he was fully born.
    • My Autobiography (1964)
  • All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.
    • My Autobiography (1964), Ch. 10
  • Friends have asked how I came to engender this American antagonism. My prodigious sin was, and still is, being a non-conformist. Although I am not a Communist I refused to fall in line by hating them.
    Secondly, I was opposed to the Committee on Un-American Activities — a dishonest phrase to begin with, elastic enough to wrap around the throat and strangle the voice of any American citizen whose honest opinion is a minority of one.
    • My Autobiography (1964)
  • I am not religious in the dogmatic sense … I neither believe nor disbelieve in anything.
    • My Autobiography (1964), p. 287
  • I believe that faith is a precursor of all our ideas. Without faith, there never could have evolved hypothesis, theory, science or mathematics. I believe that faith is an extension of the mind. It is the key that negates the impossible. To deny faith is to refute oneself and the spirit that generates all our creative forces. My faith is in the unknown, in all that we do not understand by reason; I believe that what is beyond our comprehension is a simple fact in other dimensions, and that in the realm of the unknown there is an infinite power for good.
    • My Autobiography, p. 291
  • I am what I am: an individual, unique and different, with a lineal history of an ancestral promptings and urgings, a history of dreams, desires, and of special experiences, of all of which I am the sum total.
    • My Autobiography (p. 271 Simon and Schuster 1964 edition)
  • Life is a beautiful, magnificent thing, even to a jellyfish. … The trouble is you won't fight. You've given up. But there's something just as inevitable as death. And that's life. Think of the power of the universe — turning the Earth, growing the trees. That's the same power within you — if you'll only have the courage and the will to use it.
    • Calvero's answer to Terry's question: "What is there to fight for?" in Limelight (1952)
  • I hope we shall abolish war and settle all differences at the conference table... I hope we shall abolish all hydrogen and atom bombs before they abolish us first.
    • In response to journalist for his views on the future of mankind at his 70th birthday (16 April 1959)
  • I am not a political man and I have no political convictions. I am an individual and a believer in liberty. That is all the politics I have. On the other hand I am not a super-patriot. Super-patriotism leads to Hitlerism — and we've had our lesson there. I don't want to create a revolution — I just want to create a few more films.
    • In response to journalist for comments on United States Attorney-General's announcement to revoke his re-entry visa, Cherbourg, England, as quoted in "Mr. Chaplin's Defense", The Guardian (23 September 1952)
  • Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.
    • As quoted in his obituary in The Guardian (28 December 1977)

The Great Dictator (1940)[edit]

This is a story of a period between two World Wars — an interim in which insanity cut loose. Liberty took a nose dive, and humanity was kicked around somewhat.
Hynkel, the dictator, ruled the nation with an iron fist. Under the new emblem of the double cross, liberty was banished, free speech was suppressed and only the voice of Hynkel was heard.
I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone, if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other's happiness — not by each other's misery.
Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up, Hannah. The clouds are lifting. The sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world, a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed and brutality. Look up, Hannah. The soul of man has been given wings, and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow...
In which Chaplin plays the roles of "Adenoid Hynkel", the dictator of Tomania, and "A Jewish Barber" the hero of the tale
  • This is a story of a period between two World Wars — an interim in which insanity cut loose. Liberty took a nose dive, and humanity was kicked around somewhat.
    • Opening placard
  • Hynkel, the dictator, ruled the nation with an iron fist. Under the new emblem of the double cross, liberty was banished, free speech was suppressed and only the voice of Hynkel was heard.
    • Narrator
  • [Hynkel addressing the crowds, referring to his colleagues: clearly modelled upon Göring and Goebbels]
    Hynkel: Herring shouldn smelten fine from Garbitsch, und Garbitsch shouldn smelten fine from Herring. Herring und Garbitsch...
    [He clasps his hands together]
    Translator: His excellency has just referred to the struggles of his early days shared by his two loyal comrades.
  • Schultz: You must speak.
    Jewish barber: I can't.
    Schultz: It's our only hope.

The Barber's speech[edit]

Closing speech of the Jewish barber, after being mistaken for Hynkel. - Full text, video and audio online at American Rhetoric
  • I'm sorry, but I don't want to be an emperor. That's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone, if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other's happiness — not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another.
    In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.
    The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood, for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world — millions of despairing men, women and little children — victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say — do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed — the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people and so long as men die, liberty will never perish.
    Soldiers! Don't give yourselves to brutes — men who despise you — enslave you — who regiment your lives — tell you what to do — what to think or what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men — machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don't hate! Only the unloved hate — the unloved and the unnatural!
    Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the 17th Chapter of St. Luke it is written: "the Kingdom of God is within man" — not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power — the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.
    Then, in the name of democracy, let us use that power! Let us all unite! Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth the future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie! They do not fulfill their promise; they never will. Dictators free themselves, but they enslave the people! Now, let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness.
    Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!

    [Cheers]
    Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up, Hannah. The clouds are lifting. The sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world, a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed and brutality. Look up, Hannah. The soul of man has been given wings, and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow — into the light of hope, into the future, the glorious future that belongs to you, to me and to all of us. Look up, Hannah. Look up.


Disputed[edit]

  • "By simple common sense I don't believe in God, in none."
    • This phrase seems to have been first mentioned in Manual of a Perfect Atheist by Mexican writer Eduardo Garcia Del Rio, in 1989, without indicating any original source, which does make this quote unreliable. The quote has been widely circulated by atheists to try to prove that Chaplin was also one of them. However, taking into account what Chaplin himself wrote in his autobiography, when he was 75 years old, and what his family members wrote about him, calling Chaplin an atheist seems untenable. (http://www.adherents.com/people/pc/Charlie_Chaplin.html) According to his son, Charles Chaplin, Jr., in his book "My Father, Charlie Chaplin", pages 239-240, Chaplin was not an atheist; he quotes him saying: "I'm not an atheist"… "I can remember him saying on more than one occasion. 'I'm definitely an agnostic. Some scientists say that if the world were to stop revolving we'd all disintegrate. But the world keeps on going. Something must be holding us all in place — some Supreme Force. But what it is I couldn't tell you.". See also pages 210-211 of the book.


Misattributed[edit]

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though its breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile with your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll find that life is still worthwhile…
  • The inmates have taken over the asylum!
    • Reported by many sites to have been said by Chaplin upon signing the papers to create the United Artists studio (1919), this is believed to actually be derived from a remark about the same event attributed to Richard Rowland, the head of Metro Pictures: "The lunatics have taken charge of the asylum"; variant derivations or reports of this statement also include "The lunatics have taken over the asylum", and the attribution to Rowland is reported to have occurred at least as early as 1926, in the work A Million and One Nights by Terry Ramsaye, and as recently as in Variety (16 October 2005)
    • David Robinson In Charlie Chaplin: Comic Genius (1996), p. 57, also asserts that a disgruntled film distributor said "The lunatics are taking over the asylum."
I admire the man who exclaimed, “I have lost a day!” because he had neglected to do any good in the course of it; but another has observed that “the most lost of all days, is that in which we have not laughed;” and, I must confess, that I feel myself greatly of his opinion.

Quotes about Chaplin[edit]

We wanted something appealing, and we thought of a tiny bit of a mouse that would have something of the wistfulness of Chaplin — a little fellow trying to do the best he could. ~ Walt Disney
  • We felt that the public, and especially the children, like animals that are cute and little. I think we are rather indebted to Charlie Chaplin for the idea. We wanted something appealing, and we thought of a tiny bit of a mouse that would have something of the wistfulness of Chaplin — a little fellow trying to do the best he could.
    • Walt Disney, stating that the development of the Mickey Mouse character was inspired by Chaplin, as quoted in How to Be Like Walt : Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life (2004) by Pat Williams and Jim Denney, p. 52

External links[edit]

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