Rare Home Movies Show Charlie Chaplin Directing a Scene That Took a Staggering 342 Takes to Get Right

Rare Home Movies Show Charlie Chaplin Directing a Scene That Took a Staggering 342 Takes to Get Right

Nov 18, 2013

Here's some rare 16 mm home-movie footage of Charlie Chaplin directing an actress he discovered when he sat next to her at a boxing match. The movie is City Lights, and the year is 1931. The actress is then-unknown Virginia Cherrill, who probably didn't know what she was getting into when Chaplin, an insane perfectionist, cast her to play the blind flower monger in his film.

Chaplin was a maniac on set. A real ball buster. At one point during the making of City Lights, he actually fired Cherrill (who made about $150 a week) when she arrived late to set following an appointment. Chaplin attempted to replace her with Georgia Hale, but too much had already been shot, forcing Chaplin to complete the film with his original actress. Oh, and she wasn't the only one Chaplin fired, either. In this piece of footage released by Criterion, watch as Chaplin wears multiple hats on set as he repeatedly attempts to shoot a three-minute sequence that eventually required an astonishing 342 takes to get right. Eat your heart out, David Fincher.

This was an interesting time in Chaplin's career because City Lights came right as Hollywood began introducing sound to its movies. Chaplin rejected the new era at first, using his star power to release City Lights as a silent movie (with recorded music). It would be another nine years (13 since the end of the silent era) before Chaplin would direct his first all-talking, all-sound movie in The Great Dictator. [via Filmmaker IQ]





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