5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful look behind the eyes of Chaplin
Lynn's book was a great view at the historical record of who Charlie Chaplin really was. There is no doubt Chaplin was the most talented and most influential man in the history of film, but there was so much more to him. Thanks to Kenneth Lynn for his terrific look at the man behind the Little Tramp.
Published on Oct. 7 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars beware: author hates subject!
This book is factually wonderful. More details about Chaplin's life are discussed here than in other bios. But, I gradually wondered what it was that was bothering me about the writing. Suddenly it dawned on me. Kenneth Lynn hates Chaplin! I dont know why, but there is an overwhelming sense that he is doing his best to knock Chaplin down wherever he can, but Chaplin's...
Published on Jan. 11 2000 by Stephen A. Melisi
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1.0 out of 5 stars The Tramp was a Red!,
This review is from: Charlie Chaplin and His Times (Paperback)The best thing I can say about this biography by Kenneth Lynn is that counterbalances the 1992 biopic of Chaplin's life. In this film, Robert Downey Jr portrayed Chaplin as an artist-hero who was martyred by the political right. While the Chaplin movie didn't ring particularly true for me, Lynn's biography appears to go too far in the opposite direction. This biography is not about Chaplin the Tramp, Chaplin the filmmaker, Chaplin the comic. Its about Chaplin the sputtering, spastic tyrant, Chaplin the felon, Chaplin the sex fiend, Chaplin the Red.
This book reads more like an indictment than a biography. Lynn makes his case persistently and repetitiously. He grants weight to negative accounts of Chaplin's character while positive accounts are brushed aside, or are relegated to the footnotes. (A typical example: Lynn gives an account of the problematic relations between Chaplin and Brando. Lynn relies on Brando's account of an interaction between the two men, which reveals Chaplin as a petty tyrant. Then, in the footnote Lynn slips in a completely contradictory account of the same incident by another source. The footnoted source, which depicts Chaplin in a much more favorable light, seems far more credible than Brando's. Lynn repeatedly dismisses the veracity of Chaplin's autobiography. But when he comes to Brando - now there's a reliable memoirist!)
In some cases, Lynn delivers jabs at his subject which seem quite pointless (for example, Lynn states that Chaplin "ignorantly" named his Modern Times heroine the Gamin. (the word is correctly spelled gamine). To me, this sort of criticism seems petty and overly personal. In sum, this mean spirited and poorly informed biography of Charlie Chaplin can be safely bypassed. David Robinson's Chaplin biography remains the primary recommendation.
3.0 out of 5 stars beware: author hates subject!,
This review is from: Charlie Chaplin and His Times (Hardcover)This book is factually wonderful. More details about Chaplin's life are discussed here than in other bios. But, I gradually wondered what it was that was bothering me about the writing. Suddenly it dawned on me. Kenneth Lynn hates Chaplin! I dont know why, but there is an overwhelming sense that he is doing his best to knock Chaplin down wherever he can, but Chaplin's genius is always sticking it to him in the end. Read with the knowledge that the author is in no way in love with his subject (a strange concept to be sure) this book can be read through and enjoyed with reservations. Without realizing this fact though, the reader can get a very unfair view of Chaplin.
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful look behind the eyes of Chaplin,
By A Customer
This review is from: Charlie Chaplin and His Times (Hardcover)Lynn's book was a great view at the historical record of who Charlie Chaplin really was. There is no doubt Chaplin was the most talented and most influential man in the history of film, but there was so much more to him. Thanks to Kenneth Lynn for his terrific look at the man behind the Little Tramp.
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing,
This review is from: Charlie Chaplin and His Times (Hardcover)I hung with this book because 'Mr. Lynn' is a highly respected writer. He did not disappoint in that area, the writing is crisp at times but the tone is crabby and vindictive. His obvious dislike for his subject gains as the book progresses. He seems to find it very difficult to compliment Chaplin or any of his films. I think most people when reading a biography hope for a objective approach from the writer but at least in Mr. Lynn's ' Chaplin' you won't find it..
5.0 out of 5 stars Placed in real historical context of the times,
This review is from: Charlie Chaplin and His Times (Hardcover)This is an amazing book, very different from the majority of biographies that I have read. The reason for this difference is that is was written by an honest, first class history professor and not by a journalist or professional writer that graduated with a C in History 101. The reader will discover rarely publicized facts about the life of the famous "Tramp". As a rare premium, the reader will get facts about those difficult times that followed Word War I, when people were fascinated with all kinds of social engineering experiments like communism and its younger sisters fascism and nazism. This fascination persisted even when information about millions murdered by these criminal "social scientists" were made public.
One of the funniest stories in this book that you really have to read is about the rich, spoiled Charlie Chaplin lecturing the British Labour Party Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald about economics. Mind you, Charlie never gave much money to charities, but loved social engineering. There are a lot of such rarely discussed facts throughout the book. That's why contemporary followers of ideologies based on mass murder are attacking or dismissing this book.
Treat yourself to this gem
2.0 out of 5 stars Chaplin is on trial once again and this time convicted.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Charlie Chaplin and His Times (Hardcover)For anyone who has read David Robinson's definitive
biography on Chaplin there is nothing new in
Kenneth Lynn's "Charlie Chaplin and his Times,"
unless you wish, as the author seems to, that Chaplin
was convicted for all the crimes he was actually
acquitted of. The author attempts to support his
preposterous thesis that every move Chaplin ever
made was either a conscious or subconscious response
to his mother's mental illness. There is nothing
about creative or technical process here, only a 1920's
prudishness and '50's red-baiting mentality. Many of
the author's interpretations of sexual symbolism in
Chaplin's early films are truly not for the squeamish.
2.0 out of 5 stars A skewed view of Chaplin and his times,
By A Customer
This review is from: Charlie Chaplin and His Times (Hardcover)It is not until late in the book that Lynn's true aim in writing about Chaplin becomes clear. It is
not, as the title implies, an attempt to seat Chaplin's work in the social context of the world
around him. Instead it is, along with Joyce Milton's "Tramp," another attempt to correct
the left-wing view of Chaplin as an innocent well-meaning artist driven out of America by
philistine witch hunters. Unfortunately, like Milton, Lynn goes much too far in the other
direction. For instance, he credits such dubious sources as Joan Barry's FBI statement and
testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee with far more validity than
they can bear. By the end, it becomes obvious that Lynn has dug into every source that can
present Chaplin as a politically-hypocritical sexual monster. That he might have been, but Lynn's bias is so obvious that it becomes impossible to get near the truth.
3.0 out of 5 stars Is Kenneth Lynn's alias Robin Leach?,
By A Customer
This review is from: Charlie Chaplin and His Times (Hardcover)Edward Steichen's mesmerizing portrait of Chaplin in 1925 that graces the dustjacket is almost worth the price of the book. However, the quality is downhill from there. I cannot say the same about Chaplin's life and work after 1925, however. Once again, a Chaplin biographer seems compelled to create a gimmick or sexy angle from which to approach Chaplin since the definitive biography remains David Robinson's _Chaplin: His Life and Art_, and the best way to learn about Chaplin (and insodoing yourself) is to watch his wonderful movies. Refrain from languishing with author Lynn in psychobabble and politically conservative views. His focus on sex in Chaplin's life and Charlie's films reveals more about the author than his subject matter. Several of his sexual interpretations are laughable. He seems to forget that the gags that are sexual in nature are funny -- as simple as that. Many times Lynn's descriptions of scenes from Chaplin' films are wrong. On the positive side, he does praise Chaplin the artist and presents some interesting analyses of his movies, but his desire to come up with something unique in the very long list of Chaplin biographers, commentators, and analysts leads him astray
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Biography But A Tad "Historic",
By A Customer
This review is from: Charlie Chaplin and His Times (Hardcover)Lynn's is the best bio I've ever read. But, when the title says "And His Times", he really means it. During many of the episodes in Chaplin's life, the author spills into historical dialog, some of which does'nt really have to do with The Tramp at all. In other words, instead of coming in at 544 pages, it should have been about 480.
There is a lot of detail and regardless of how much you think you knew about Chaplin, you will still find it facinating. Even if you don't care for Chaplin but have an interest in the roots of American filmmaking, I highly recommend it.<BR
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Charlie Chaplin and His Times by Kenneth S. Lynn (Hardcover - March 3 1997)
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