An Everyman who expressed the defiant spirit of freedom, Charlie Chaplin was first lauded and later reviled in the America that made him Hollywood’s richest man. He was a figure of multiple paradoxes. Simon Louvishâs new book, following his five major biographies of comedy’s classic stars, from W.C. Fields to Laurel and Hardy and Mae West, looks afresh at the ‘mask behind the man.’
Louvish charts the tale of the Tramp himself through his films, from the early Mack Sennett shorts through the major features (The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times, The Great Dictator, et al.). He retrieves Chaplin as the iconic London street kid who carried the ‘surreal’ antics of early British music hall triumphantly onto the Hollywood screen. Louvish also looks anew at Chaplinâs and the Trampâs social and political ideas–the challenge to fascism, defiance of the McCarthyite witch hunts, eventual ‘exile,’ and last mature disguises as the serial killer Monsieur Verdoux and the dying English clown Calvero in Limelight.
This book is an epic journey, summing up the roots of comedy and its appeal to audiences everywhere, who reveled in the clown’s raw energy, his ceaseless struggle against adversity, and his capacity to represent our own fears, foibles, dreams, inner demons and hopes.
About the Author
SIMON LOUVISH was born in Glasglow in 1947 and grew up in Israel. Later he decamped to the London School of Film Technique, where he became involved in the production of a series of independent documentary films. He also published a memoir of his Israeli days as well as a series of novels set mainly in the Middle East. Since 1979, he has also been teaching film at the London Film School and writing for various newspapers and magazines.
Louvis is the author of definitive biographies of great clowns of screen comedy, including Man on the Flying Trapeze: The Story of W. C. Fields, Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers, and Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy. Further film biographies include Keystone: The Life and Clowns of Mack Sennet, Mae West: It Ain’t No Sin, and Cecil B. DeMille: A Life in Art.
For more information please visit his Web site: http://www.simonlouvish.com.