Sunday, July 03, 2011


The ubiquitous Alec Baldwin has apparently become a permanent staple of Turner Classic Movies' weekly The Essentials series, which he co-hosts with Turner's house expert, Robert Osborne, and where he makes facile quips with great authority and misguided confidence.

He often seems silly, never more so than after Saturday's screening of Charles Chaplin's 1931 silent gem "City Lights" - "a comedy romance in pantomime" - when he pronounced that Chaplin's modern heirs are two comic actors who have worked with Baldwin. Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller.

Say what?

Osborne looked stricken, with back arched as he clutched the arms of his chair in disbelief - and with an expression on his face resembling something out of an Edvard Munch painting. Much to his credit, the usually deferential Osborne did not let the ridiculous comment slide but actually challenged it.

Given Carrey's penchant for physical comedy, one could almost - almost - see his similarity to Chaplin. It's a stretch. It requires squinting your eyes.

But Ben Stiller! He's an urbane, funny performer, actually the polar opposite of Chaplin.

The sad fact is, there is no modern equivalent to Charlies Chaplin.

Movies have moved on, replacing his sophisticated simplicity with coarse simple-mindedness.

It's rather like comparing Alec Baldwin to ... Cary Grant.


John Kaiser said...

Dear Mr. Baldwin,

You are a wonderful actor, who has turned into something of a gifted comedian in his own right I have the utmost respect for you for that. But please, I implore do not open your mouth about anything, politics, movies, cooking, space exploration, etc. unless you have a script before you written by someone else.

A Fan (of your acting),

John Kaiser

joe baltake said...

He's come down with that malady that inevitably hits most celebrities - he's become a know-it-all. Still, he's a terrific actor and I find him wildly entertaining.

Anonymous said...

perhaps this is the reason Robert O is being hospitalized!

Flip Baker said...

OH ... My ... GOD!

p.r. said...

The Alec Baldwin remark about Chaplin is indeed jaw-dropping. Am glad it didn't pass unchallenged. I'd have to say that one of the few times I've completely fallen apart emotionally at the movies was a screening in L.A. at the correct speed of "City Lights." The recognition scene, where she realizes it was Chaplin all the time...I couldn't stop sobbing. I later read that James Agee wrote that it is "the highest moment in all cinema" or something to that effect.

I've seen City Lights at the wrong speed of 24fps and on TV at both speeds, and the impact is close to zero by comparison

Scott said...

Charlie Chaplin is an overrated hack!