John McCabe, first and foremost, is a film critic. That is essential for anyone who intends to read this book to know. Mr. McCabe looks at the life of Charlie Chaplin through the lens of his movies, and gives wonderful background material on the different films, combining a review of Chaplinâs films with the events ongoing in Chaplinâs life to tell a cohesive, interesting story. Please note that this does not lead to a glossing over of unpleasant aspects of Charlieâs life or personality; Mr. McCabe does an admirable job of revealing Charlie as he truly was, warts and all, tied to a time line of his cinematic history.
In addition to being a film critic, John McCabe is a man who definitely does his research. In the course of writing this book, Mr. McCabe read every book and magazine article written in English and French at the time (the book was published in 1978).
Mr. McCabe has also written several other biographies, including a classic biography of Stan Laurel. This served him well, as Stan Laurel spoke volumes about Charlie Chaplin, and Mr. McCabeâs biography quotes from Stan Laurel freely, as well as from many of Charlieâs other friends and collaborators. It tends to give a more balanced view of Charlieâs creative process, as opposed to the âlone wolfâ view that Charlie Chaplin gave in My Autobiography.
I recommend this biography wholeheartedly, and enjoyed it myself immensely.
Table of Contents – Charlie Chaplin, by John McCabe