Film

10 Enduring Facts About Charlie Chaplin

Best known for his tragicomic character The Little Tramp, Charlie Chaplin revolutionized cinema, both during the silent era and the talkies. Almost a century later, The Gold Rush, Modern Times, The Kid, and The Great Dictator are still considered essential cinematic works. His writing, producing, directing, acting, and scoring of his own films received just as much attention as his controversial personal life. The London-born Chaplin had a penchant for marrying teenage women, and ended up fathering 11 children. Though his outspoken political views would eventually force him out of America for good in 1952, Chaplin’s Hollywood legacy still burns brightly. On what would be his 128th birthday, here are 10 facts about the legendary filmmaker.

1. HE COLLABORATED WITH A FEMALE FILMMAKER (WHICH WAS A RARITY IN THOSE DAYS).

Mabel Normand was a silent film actress as well as a writer, producer, and director—which was unusual for the mid-1900s. She starred in 12 films with Charlie Chaplin, including 1914’s Mabel’s Strange Predicament, which marked the onscreen debut of Chaplin’s The Tramp character (though Mabel’s Strange Predicament was filmed first and technically was his first Tramp appearance, it was released two days after Kid Auto Races at Venice, the actual film debut of the character). She also directed Chaplin in 1914’s Caught in a Cabaret and the pair co-directed and starred in Her Friend the Bandit, which was released the same year.

2. HE CO-FOUNDED A BIG TIME MOVIE STUDIO.

In 1919, Chaplin and fellow filmmakers Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D.W. Griffith formed United Artists as a means to finance their own movies so that they could retain creative control. The first film released under the new studio was 1919’s His Majesty, the American, starring Fairbanks. The studio took off and eventually branched out to build a chain of movie theaters. But in 1955, with movie attendance at a new low, Chaplin sold his shares. UA released the first James Bond movie in 1963. Today, MGM is UA’s parent company.

3. HE COMPOSED THE MUSIC FOR MANY OF HIS FILMS.

Beginning with 1931’s City Lights, Chaplin composed scores for his films’ soundtracks. His song “Smile,” used in Modern Times, became a classic. In 1954, Nat King Cole’s version—now with lyrics—peaked at number 10 on the Billboard charts. Michael Jackson also recorded a cover. Chaplin won his only competitive Oscar in 1973 for composing the theme to his 1952 film Limelight (the film wasn’t released in the U.S. until 1972).

4. HE WAS A PERFECTIONIST.

There was a reason Chaplin did everything himself: perfectionism. When he worked on his short film The Immigrant, Chaplin shot 40,000 feet of film, which was a lot…

11 Movies About the Titanic You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

When James Cameron decided to make a film about the sinking of the Titanic, he wasn’t exactly venturing into uncharted waters. Ever since the disaster struck in 1912, there has been a steady stream of movies depicting the tragedy, including an early “talkie,” an ’80s political thriller, and a bizarre animated musical that has to be seen to be believed. So if you’re not a fan of the DiCaprio version, know that plenty of other options are out there.

1. SAVED FROM THE TITANIC (1912)

On April 14, 1912 at 11:40 p.m., the RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean. During the wee hours of the next morning, she vanished beneath the waves, killing over 1500 people in the process. Then, on May 14 of that very same year, the first in what would become a long line of motion pictures about the disaster was released. That’s right: The first-ever Titanic film came out a mere 29 days after the boat sank!

Produced by Éclair Studios, the picture was called Saved From the Titanic. Today, it’s regarded as a movie of huge historical significance, and not just because of the release date. This film stars Dorothy Gibson, an actress who was saved from the real Titanic. When that vessel started to go under, Gibson was among the 2228 people aboard. Luckily for her, she managed to secure a spot on the very first lifeboat that was lowered into the water. A passing ship called the RMS Carpathia rescued her, along with many other survivors.

Saved From the Titanic is a fictionalization of Gibson’s harrowing experience. For some extra authenticity, she wore the same outfit that she’d donned when the Carpathia found her. Reliving the worst night of her life took an awful toll on Gibson. It was said that she’d often sob uncontrollably during the shoot, and the actress endured a mental breakdown after production wrapped. No known copies of Saved From the Titanic have survived to the present day—although a few promotional photos still exist.

2. IN NACHT UND EIS (1912)

Another silent drama, In Nacht und Eis (“Night Time in the Ice”) was directed by Mime Misu, a former barber. Filmed in northern Germany, the movie premiered at a Berlin theater on August 17, 1912. At 42 minutes from start to finish, In Nacht Und Eis was deemed unusually long by the standards of its period. Back in the early 1910s, most movies had a runtime of 20 minutes or less. Evidently, really long Titanic flicks are nothing new.

For decades, movie historians believed that In Nacht und Eis—like Saved From the Titanic—had been lost to history. But in 1998, two private collectors and a major German film archive all came forward with original copies of Misu’s film. The salvaged footage has since been re-edited into a shortened cut that can be viewed with English subtitles on YouTube.

3. ATLANTIC (1929)

Also known as Disaster in the Atlantic, this was the very first “talkie” to be inspired by the Titanic’s ill-fated voyage. It’s a cinematic adaptation of The Berg, a stage play that had recently opened to rave reviews in West London. Interestingly, while playwright Ernest Raymond extensively researched the Titanic catastrophe for his show, the play never actually mentions this ship by name. The Berg chronicles the final two hours of an unidentified ocean liner that’s just had a lethal run-in with a mass of floating ice. Similarly, the movie version refers to its vessel as the Atlantic. This was likely done at the request of the White Star Line, the British shipping company that had built the Titanic between 1909 and 1911. Still, some newspapers connected the dots anyway, describing the picture as a “Film of the Titanic.”

4. TITANIC (1943)

In 1941, Joseph Goebbels—Adolf Hitler’s Propaganda Minister—decided to create a big-budget film about history’s most famous shipwreck. Of course, it wouldn’t exactly be a faithful retelling. With World War II underway, Goebbels and screenwriter Harald Bratt envisioned this project as a way to smear Germany’s chief adversary: Great Britain. To do so, the script threw accuracy out the window. The movie’s villain is J. Bruce Ismay, an English businessman who’d presided over the White Star Line in real life and was on the Titanic when she sank. However, Goebbels’s film shows him bribing the captain to speed up the ship so that the voyage can set a new Transatlantic passage record. This is pure fiction, wholly unsupported by the evidence, and the only character who ever warns Ismay about the dangers of icebergs is a made-up German officer named Petersen. At the end of the movie, Petersen tries to bring this greedy scoundrel to justice before a board of inquiry. Since the ruling body is 100 percent British, Ismay—naturally—gets off scot-free. Titanic proceeds to hammer in its prejudiced message with a title card at the end of the film that says “The death of 1,500 passengers remains unatoned for, an eternal condemnation of England’s quest for profit.”

Director Herbert Selpin received a budget that was the equivalent of $155.8 million in modern U.S. money to make the movie. With that generous budget, his team was able to construct a 30-foot model of the doomed ship for the sinking scene. The government also gave Selphin more or less whatever he asked for—including an actual…

How Filmmakers Decide How Their Movie Monsters Will Sound

Bringing a movie monster to life on the big screen is more complicated than throwing in some CGI. There’s also the matter of sound. While the dinosaurs in 1993’s Jurassic Park did exist at one point, we don’t know anything about the noises they made. King Kong isn’t like any gorilla on Earth, so how should he sound when he roars? The Verge explores this conundrum in the video below.

When it…

6 Abandoned Movie Sets You Can Visit In Real Life

Who doesn’t love the feeling of stepping into another world? And even better is when it’s a place you’ve glimpsed on the big screen and felt its magic, right?

There are plenty of real life film locations that you can visit, but not many that sit abandoned and look exactly as they did when the stars and crew wandered the set. It’s a whole other experience, and one that – if you’re a Hollywood fan – you won’t want to miss.

Photo Credit: African Queen FL Keys

The cargo ship featured in the film was originally christened “The Livingston,” and was built in East Africa in 1912. Director John Huston stumbled on it in the Congo and bought it for the film.

Afterward, a San Francisco businessman bought the ship and re-christened it “The African Queen.” He moved it to the USA to attract fans of the movie, and though the steamboat has changed hands over the years, its renewed purpose has not.

It is currently owned by Suzanne and Lance Holmquist, who restored the interior but left the rustic exterior charm, and offer daily tours and dinner cruises on the Port Largo Canal.

You might be surprised (or not) to learn that Zero Dark Thirty was not filmed entirely on location – some of the war-torn Afghanistan…

How to Use Netflix’s Secret Category Codes to Satiate Any Movie Craving

If you use Netflix long enough, you just might get the feeling that you’ve seen every category they have to offer, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. By tapping into Netflix’s unpublished “secret” category system, you can browse Netflix in a whole new way and find some pretty cool content in the process.

After a spell of heavy Netflix it starts to feel like you’ve seen it all. There’s the “Trending” category, the “New Releases” category, possibly some seasonal categories thrown in like “Family Halloween Films” and of course the generic stuff like “TV Sci-Fi & Horror”, “Binge-worthy TV Shows” and such.

What isn’t apparent, as you’re staring at the categories screen for the umpteenth time, however, is that beneath the surface Netflix is packed with categories you’ll never see if you’re browsing Netflix from the mobile app, and may still miss even if you’re looking for them using the more comprehensive category selection menus on the Netflix website.

For example, when we looked at the general “Comedy” category on the Netflix website, we saw 11 sub-categories (including Dark Comedies, Slapstick, Romantic Comedies, and so on). When we looked at “Comedy” on the mobile app, we saw 10 categories—oddly there was only an overlap of 5 categories between the two methods using the same account.

But there’s so much more in just the Comedy genre alone than those two browsing methods reveal. In fact, there’s currently 21 different “primary” movie comedy categories on Netflix (and that’s not even getting into the TV shows)! Once you get into the really particular subgenres for any bigger category the list quickly balloons into the dozens, if not hundreds of categories.

So how do you access all those categories that Netflix isn’t showing you during regular browsing? Through the “genre codes”….