Archive for July 26, 2020

The Sunday Intertitle: Charlie’s flower

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , on July 26, 2020 by dcairns

This, with thanks to — who was it? I’ve lost the message — seems to be the origin of the faux-Scott Fitzgerald character’s Chaplin ruminations in Budd Schulberg’s THE DISENCHANTED, mentioned here. Neil suggests that Schulberg took his inspiration from James Agee’s essay on silent comedy, and indeed the incident — Charlie, drunk, being dragged along, snatching up a flower and momentarily being distracted/transformed by it — is closer to Schulberg’s description in the Agee version than it is in the film itself.

The actual flower business is only a few frames, so Agee earns props for even noticing it. Schulberg elaborates it into a full bit, Charlie turning into a romantic poet for a moment under the influence. In fact, he plucks the thing, smells it and discards it with no real transformation from the truculent inebriation which is this film’s stock-in-trade. But it’s certainly correct to say that transformation is a Chaplin trait — he transforms himself, but also has the power to transform objects: note the alarm clock routine in THE PAWN SHOP.