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on July 5, 1997
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.
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on July 9, 1997
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.
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on July 29, 1998
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..
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