Review: Peter Ackroyd’s ‘Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life’

November 30, 2014 12:47 AM

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In 1914, Keystone Studios released two short films that gave a world marching to war a reason to laugh. Kid Auto Races at Venice and Mabel’s Strange Predicament are far less memorable than the character they introduced: the Tramp. Wearing oversized shoes and baggy clothes, carrying a cane, and sporting a derby and just a dash of moustache, actor Charlie Chaplin waddled onto the screen.

Two years and dozens of shorts later, Chaplin was a global favorite. Over time, the Tramp became an enduring icon — and his creator a bit of a head case. Tyrannical and incredibly moody, he was completely self-absorbed to the detriment of professional and family relationships.

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