“Films for Families” Sunday matinee is
Rochester, N.Y., June 1, 2011—The Dryden Theatre pays tribute to Charlie Chaplin throughout the month of June, with a series of 15 films, including Modern Times, The Kid, and City Lights. While it is known Chaplin’s movies were made wholly for himself, they did speak to the whole world — and continue to do so decades later.
Chaplin’s first rush of cinema pantomime — more than 30 short films for Keystone churned out in a single year, 1914 — established not only a star but the whole idea of the star system in an industry hitherto dominated by company logos and brands. These films never went out of circulation. By 1918 the original negatives had been overprinted and new copies of films with the most recognizable and lucrative man in the world had to be sourced from badly worn and scratched projection prints. Chaplin’s silent comedies remained familiar and beloved long after the talkie revolution. They circulated in all formats, from 8mm prints to public domain DVDs.
The movies remained popular — screening constantly, sought out by film collectors, schoolchildren, intellectuals, and everyone in between — while the man himself was in eclipse. He was raked over the coals of the gossip columns, denounced by red-baiting politicians, and harassed as a matter of government policy until his ultimate exile from his adopted homeland. As a result, Chaplin suffered public humiliation.
The movies today? “They’re funny. They’re sentimental. Above all, they’re throwbacks — blackout sketches seemingly tossed off and bashed together,” said Lori Donnelly, Eastman House film programmer. “The original faux primitive, the apparently artless Chaplin would make dozens of takes of the most pedestrian shots.”
As the years passed, his new films became more infrequent and otherworldly — crusades against encroaching menaces (industrialism, capitalism, mass murder, talking pictures, America) that had already handily won the day. “No one else in the history of art has shown us in greater detail what it means to be poor, and certainly no one else in the history of movies has played to more diverse audience or evolved more ambitiously from one feature to the next,” said film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum.
The Dryden will be screening new 35mm prints of Chaplin’s features and shorts, many of them restored by the Cineteca di Bologna. The films are being distributed by Janus Films, the oldest active art house distributor in the United States, which partnered with the Chaplin Estate in 2010 to reissue the director's 1918- 1957 catalog. All of the silent films screening in the Charlie Chaplin series will be presented with a synchronized orchestral score composed by Chaplin himself.
The films of the Charlie Chaplin series
8 p.m. Tuesday, June 7
SUNNYSIDE / PAY DAY / SHOULDER ARMS
Charles Chaplin, US 1918-1922, approx. 89 min.)
8p.m. Thursday, June 9
THE GREAT DICTATOR (Charles Chaplin, US 1940, 124 min.)
2 p.m. Sunday, June 12
2nd Sunday Films for Families
THE CIRCUS (Charles Chaplin, US 1928, 72 min.)
8 p.m. Tuesday, June 14
A WOMAN OF PARIS (Charles Chaplin, US 1923, 82 min.)
8 p.m. Thursday, June 16
A KING IN NEW YORK (Charles Chaplin, UK 1957, 110 min.)
7 p.m. Sunday, June 19
MODERN TIMES (Charles Chaplin, US 1936, 87 min.)
8 p.m. Tuesday, June 21
MONSIEUR VERDOUX (Charles Chaplin, US 1947, 123 min.)
8 p.m. Thursday, June 23
THE KID (Charles Chaplin, US 1921, 54 min.)
7 p.m. Sunday, June 26
CITY LIGHTS (Charles Chaplin, US 1931, 86 min.)
8 p.m. Tuesday, June 28
THE IDLE CLASS / A DAY’S PLEASURE / THE PILGRIM
Charles Chaplin, US 1919-1923, approx. 91 min.)
8 p.m. Thursday, June 30
LIMELIGHT (Charles Chaplin, US 1952, 137 min.)
Regular Dryden admission for each film: $8 general/$6 students and members (although children are $5 at the June 12 matinee). For more information call (585) 271-3361 or visit dryden.eastmanhouse.org.