38. Charles Chaplin
THE GOLD RUSH, CITY LIGHTS, MODERN TIMES, THE GREAT DICTATOR
If the universe turned inside out and Mel Gibson and Stephen Spielberg could become one person, that person would be Charlie Chaplin. Not only was he an actor/director, in the time before talkies he was the king of both. The planet’s most famous film star in the first quarter of the 20th century, in 1925 he was the first actor to appear on the cover of Time Magazine, the secret to his fame was that he wrote his own ticket. His directorial career began in 1914 while working under Mack Sennett. From there he became a master of sans sound film making, with highlights including The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator. His movies came out of a live performance style, and it wasn’t until Dictator (his first real talkie) that he shot a film from a completed script. Instead Chaplin used a general premise as his starting point, and he would keep shooting until the story emerged. This necessitated many takes and reshoots, not to mention longer and more expensive shoots. As the studio balked, he took his money and started United Artists in 1919 an effort to have total and complete control over his output. His directorial career spanned more than 70 films and six decades ending with A Countess from Hong Kong, starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren. A legend in his own time, he only ever won one Academy Awards for Best Original Dramatic Score. The closest he ever came for Oscar recognition came in 1929 when the Academy took him out of the running for a best actor Oscar, and instead gave him an honorary Oscar for The Circus, “For versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing.”
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