Saturday, February 01, 2014

A King in New York

Written, directed, and starring Charles Chaplin, A King in New York is the story of a king who arrives to New York City penniless following a revolution as he deals with his new surroundings. The film is a satire of sorts into the world of American culture and politics in which Chaplin plays the titular character of King Igor Shahdov in his final leading performance in his penultimate film as writer/director. Also starring Dawn Addams, Maxine Audley, Jerry Desmonde, Oliver Johnston, and Michael Chaplin. A King in New York is an engaging though flawed film from Charles Chaplin.

The film explores a king who had been deposed by his own country as he travels to America to seek refuge as he deals with financial losses and a new world that confuses him. Especially as he’s tricked into appearing in commercials where he’s humiliated for entertainment while baffled by the ideas of American culture where he meets a boy named Rupert (Michael Chaplin) at a progressive boys school who spouts anarchist ideals. In turn, King Shahdov reluctantly takes part in humiliating ads for money as well as do things he didn’t want to do as he hopes to use atomic power to create utopia. Charles Chaplin’s screenplay not only has him poking fun at the idea of American culture with its idea on commercialism and witch hunts on communist activities. It also has Chaplin also making some commentary about these witch hunts which he had dealt with as he also gets the chance to provide some humor into these situations. Even as he makes the King Shahdov character an individual who would understand his role and find ways to make the world much better.

Chaplin’s direction of the film has him trying to restrain the comedy in some respects in order to explore the idea of American culture and its politics. While some of the comedic aspects of the film feels a bit forced at times along with the gags. At least Chaplin is able to get his message across without being too overbearing while much of the film is shot in studio sets as he was unable to make the film in the U.S. at the time. Much of the compositions are straightforward with some very interesting set pieces and moments that does allow the film to be entertaining. Overall, Chaplin creates a pretty compelling and enjoyable film about a king living in New York City as he deals with a very Americanized culture.

Cinematographer Georges Perinal does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography where much of it is straightforward while using backdrops for some of the film‘s exterior scenes. Editor John Seabourne does nice work with the editing with its use of stock-footage as inserts for the city of New York as well as shots of planes and such. Art director Allan Harris does superb work with the set from the suite King Shahdov lives in as well as the hotel and some of the places he goes to. Sound editor Spencer Reeve does terrific work with the sound to play into some of the sound effects and such that occur in the film. The film’s music by Charles Chaplin is brilliant as it plays to much of the film’s humor and drama in its orchestral presentation as well as elements of rock n’ roll and jazz.

The film’s amazing cast includes some notable small performances from Sid James as a TV advertiser, Joan Ingram as a hostess who keeps inviting King Shahdov to a party, Jerry Desmonde as the prime minister who holds the funds of the king, Harry Green as the king’s lawyer, Phil Brown as Rupert’s headmaster, and Maxine Audley as Queen Irene who is still friendly with her husband though neither of them are in love with each other. Michael Chaplin is terrific as the boy Rupert that the king meets as he is the son of accused communist teachers where he spouts anarchist rhetoric while seeking help from the king. Oliver Johnston is excellent as Ambassador Jaume who helps the king with all sorts of things while being just as baffled by American culture.

Dawn Addams is wonderful as the TV specialist Ann Kay who would put the king into humiliating situations while becoming aware of the toll it’s taking on him. Finally, there’s Charles Chaplin in a superb performance as King Igor Shahdov as a deposed king lost in New York City as he is baffled by American culture and new ideals while trying to rally for something that will build a better future as he comes to term with his role as king.

A King in New York is a delightful from Charles Chaplin. Though not everything about the film works, it still manages to have something to say about American culture in the 1950s as well as showcase Chaplin’s bitterness towards the American government at the time. In the end, A King in New York is a superb film from Charles Chaplin.

Charles Chaplin Films: (Twenty Minutes of Love) - (Caught in the Rain) - (A Busy Day) - (Her Friend the Bandit) - (Mabel’s Married Life) - (Laughing Gas) - (The Face On the Bar Room Floor) - (Recreation) - (The Masquerader) - (His New Profession) - The Rounders - (The Property Man) - (The New Janitor) - (Those Love Pangs) - (Dough & Dynamite) - (Gentlemen of Nerve) - (His Musical Career) - (His Trysting Place) - (Getting Acquainted) - (His Prehistoric Past) - (His New Job) - (A Night Out) - (The Champion) - (In the Park) - (A Jitney Elopement) - (The Tramp) - (By the Sea (1915 film)) - (His Regeneration) - (Work (1915 film) - (A Woman) - (The Bank) - (Shanghaied) - (A Night in the Snow) - (Burlesque on Carmen) - (Police (1916 film)) - (Triple Trouble) - (The Floorwalker) - (The Fireman) - (The Vagabond) - (One A.M. (1916 film)) - (The Count) - (The Pawnshop) - (Behind the Screen) - (The Rink) - (Easy Street) - (The Cure (1917 film)) - (The Immigrant (1917 film)) - (The Adventurer) - A Dog’s Life - (The Bond) - Shoulder Arms - Sunnyside - A Day’s Pleasure - (The Professor) - The Kid - The Idle Class - Pay Day - The Pilgrim - A Woman of Paris - The Gold Rush - The Circus - City Lights - Modern Times - The Great Dictator - Monsieur Verdoux - Limelight - (A Countess from Hong Kong)

© thevoid99 2014

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