Cinema: Exit the Tramp, Smiling

Charles Spencer Chaplin: 1889-1977

Critic Edmund Wilson once rhetorically inquired: "Have we ever turned out anything that was comparable artistically to the best German or Russian films?" Few disagreed with his answer: "I can think of nothing except Charlie Chaplin, who is his own producer and produces simply himself."

To the last, Chaplin, who died at 88 on Christmas Day at his home in Vevey, Switzerland, produced simply himself. But that self was not so simple. It was first introduced to America as a vaudeville clown in 1910, and the country did not respond...

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