A very warm, personal biography of Charlie Chaplin by his friend, assistant and producer, Jerry Epstein. The book definitely lives up to its’ name of ‘pictorial’. I count over 280 photographs and other reproductions throughout the book, both of Chaplin’s work, his family, his friends, and a few pertaining more to Mr. Epstein. You might expect a lot of self-aggrandizing in this type of biography, but you would be mistaken. Jerry Epstein looked up to Charlie Chaplin, and saw Charlie and Oona as a combination of foster parents, role models, and mentors. He was there firsthand as Chaplin’s assistant on Limelight, as well as working with him on A King in New York and A Countess in Hong Kong. He was also a close friend, due to his friendship with Chaplin’s son Sydney, as well as his own maturing relationship with Charlie Chaplin and Oona O’Neil Chaplin. He carries the story up to the death of Chaplin, and beyond, talking somewhat about Chaplin’s surviving family, and his film legacy.
Chapter 1: CHARLIE AND ME - The Beginnings
Jerry Epstein begins his book by setting the background of McCarthyism, and how it led to Chaplin’s exile from the United States of America. From there, he jumps back in time about five years to explain his involvement running the Circle Theater. This was an experimental theater in-the-round, which had Charlie Chaplin’s son Sydney as one of its’ actors. From there, he hops back further in time, to start from the beginning, with Chaplin’s traumatic boyhood in London,
Chapter 2: CHARLIE AT THE CIRCLE
More detail on how Jerry Epstein met and became involved with Charlie Chaplin through the involvement of Charlie’s son at the Circle Theater
Chapter 3: THE CIRCLE: The Story Continues
More detail, with Charlie participating more and more at the Circle Theater, becoming involved behind the scenes, and becoming near-director on some productions.
Chapter 4: LIMELIGHT
Jerry details much behind the scenes information of the filming of Limelight, where he worked as associate producer to Chaplin. A very revealing look at how Chaplin worked.
Chapter 5: A KING IN NEW YORK
More behind the scenes, not just looking at the filming of A King in New York, but at the Chaplin family in exile, how they handled the trauma, how close they came to losing everything, and the move to Europe.
Chapter 6: THE CHAPLIN REVUE
Information on what Charlie Chaplin was doing in his ‘quiet’ time between films, preparing the Chaplin Revue, reworking old films, composing, etc.
Chapter 7: A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG
Jerry continues describing Charlie Chaplin’s method of working in making his final film. And how it conflicted with Marlin Brando’s style.
Chapter 8: THE FREAK
A look at the Charlie Chaplin’s final years, as his age finally caught up to him. Charlie worked, on and off, on a film to showcase his daughter. The movie, titled ‘The Freak‘ dealt with a young girl who awakes one morning with enormous, angelic wings – and how the world reacts to her.
Chapter 9: AFTERTHOUGHTS
A look at how Oona and the rest of the Chaplin clan dealt with the death of Charlie on Christmas day. How they dealt with the kidnapping (and return) of Charlie’s corpse. What happened to the various family members in later years.
I rate it 4 clowns on a 5-clown scale.