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A Well-Researched and Detailed Work on Charlie Chaplin | Xpress Reviews

Week ending April 11, 2014

Kornhaber, Donna. Charlie Chaplin, Director. Northwestern Univ. 2014. 304p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780810129528. pap. $29.95. FILM
charliechaplin041114Chronicling the directing career of Charlie Chaplin (1889–1977), Kornhaber (English, Univ. of Texas at Austin) argues the multitasking filmmaker was a genius who wrote, directed, acted in, composed soundtracks for, and produced his films, at a time when mere “innovators” in the movie business split up these duties. Transitioning between the elegance of silent film and the harsh reality of talkies, Chaplin approached directing with a style that would later inspire Federico Fellini, Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles, and many others. Artistically attached to the beauty of silent films, he reluctantly moved forward in a fast-paced Hollywood that refused to allow talking films to be just a phase. The author discusses Chaplin’s influential methods, trials in the industry, and how one man changed what it meant to be a director.
Verdict Readers looking to work in film will find inspiration in this extremely well-researched and detailed work. The book’s textbooklike tone and attention to technical details make it best for academics or those in art or film school. Readers looking for “fluff” or a discussion of Chaplin’s personal life will be disappointed.—Rochelle LeMaster, Medina Cty. Dist. Lib., OH