Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
United Kingdom/USA, 1957. Attica Film Company. Screenplay by Charles Chaplin. Cinematography by Georges Perinal. Produced by Charles Chaplin. Music by Charles Chaplin. Production Design by Allan Harris. Costume Design by John Wilson-Apperson. Film Editing by John Seabourne Sr..
Charles Chaplin‘s last starring role, in which he also writes and directs, in which he is the deposed king of a fictitious European nation whose collapse following a revolution has forced him to seek refuge in the Big Apple. Once there, broke and in need of cash, he becomes a national celebrity by appearing in advertisements for corporations before his career takes a nervous turn when he is accused of being a communist. Unseen in the United States for decades, this film was labelled anti-American upon its release in the UK for the delightful fun poked at the Red Scare witch hunts and homogenization of art as a result of television commercials, but it’s actually not meant to be quite so explosive a criticism. Chaplin’s political messages are always tinged with bittersweet regret and acceptance of his own complicity, though here in his old age his talent for subtlety fails him and the political messages hit so hard that it’s no wonder it rubbed some people the wrong way. Considering this was the country that had kicked his talented ass out years before for “womanizing”, it’s not really all that hard to believe that he would have formed a negative opinion or two in the years since his forced exile. Michael Chaplin, the director’s son, has a wonderfully warm supporting role as a child whose victimization makes the strongest statement against the political attitudes of the time. Exceedingly fun to watch, but not anywhere near the director’s best.