On a trip to Norwich yesterday, I was delighted to see a human statue paying tribute to Charlie Chaplin. When I put some money in the hat he gave me a little bow!
On returning home I had a look on Youtube and discovered that someone had put up two videos of him, so am linking to these for others to enjoy. I prefer the first, shorter video, but thought I would link to both.
Sorry not to have updated for a while – I’ve been busy and then was away on holiday. However, this is just a note to say that I was interested to hear a report about how Birmingham Central Library has discovered what could be the UK’s largest collection of silent movie scores, including a unique Charlie Chaplin theme tune. The library’s Youtube channel also has two videos showing Ben Dawson, a pianist from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, playing some of the music discovered in the collection and talking about the pieces.
The BBC did a short report about this which mentioned that the scores may be used to help create music for nine silent Hitchcock films being restored by the BFI. A couple of brief snippets of unnamed films from the BFI archives (I don’t think they are the Hitchcocks) are set to music here and I think there may be a glimpse of John Barrymore in the first one, although to be honest I’m not sure if it is him or not – he is wearing a wig and doesn’t stand in profile. If anyone can answer this one either way, I’d be interested to know.
I’m always saying that I plan to write more shorter postings, but now I’m really going to do it, as I’m so busy these days that it’s a choice between writing short postings or not updating this blog at all. Anyway, I will hopefully put a good selection of pictures with each posting, and over the next week or two I’m planning to concentrate on John Barrymore. As I’ve said before, although Barrymore is best-known for his silent films, I have seen more of his talkies and these tend to appeal to me because of his beautiful speaking voice – however, I do want to see more of his silents too.
Topaze is a rather obscure but entertaining comedy-drama from RKO (sadly not on DVD, though it did come out on Laserdisc – but at time of posting it can be found online at YT), adapted from a French play by Marcel Pagnol, which sees Barrymore cast wildly against type. He plays Professor Auguste Topaze, a timid, down-at-heel teacher in a boys’ school who is also a brilliant scientist – and who gets caught up in a scam to sell tap water as a health-giving mineral water. For most of the film his face is concealed by facial hair, and that famous profile is hardly glimpsed, though he does get a chance to look handsome briefly in the final scenes. I think he does a great job of playing a part which at first sounds like a surprising role for him – and it is interesting to see him if anything slightly underplaying rather than hamming it up. The other main star is Myrna Loy, as Coco, the sensible young mistress of a crooked baron played by Reginald Mason.