Charlie Chaplin is one of the most iconic movie stars of all time and became a legend of the silent film movement. Known for his wonderful physical comedy, and his iconic look, Chaplin was revered as a performer and produced some of the greatest movies in cinema history. He also transitioned to a director as well as star, and he was renowned for his attention to detail and being a perfectionist.
Chaplin left a lasting legacy in cinema and forever influenced the way people viewed physical comedy. He created a lot of great performances in his career, and some of his movies are still viewed as classics to this day. We’re going to take a look at some of the best movie performances Chaplin ever put in – if you have never seen these movies, definitely check them out as soon as you can.
The Kid (1921)
Chaplin’s directorial debut is also one of his finest (and saddest) movies and explores the theme of poverty, a big issue at the time. He plays a tramp who winds up caring for and raising an abandoned baby until the child is taken away by an orphanage at the age of 5. The rest of the movie focuses on the two trying to reunite, but being unable to. It’s a moving and wonderful film and showcased Chaplin’s early ability to direct well, even on his debut feature.
The Great Dictator (1940)
This is perhaps Charlie Chaplin’s most famous movie, and, came at a time when his adopted country, the United States, was at war with Germany. The movie is overtly political and focuses on the issue of power, race, war, propaganda, and fascism. His first ‘talkie,’ the movie was a cutting indictment of people who were seen as dictators at the time. The film has been regarded as an important work of satire and would become Chaplin’s most commercially successful movie.
Modern Times (1936)
The genius of Chaplin is that he was never afraid to tackle socio-political issues in his work, and this is another movie that tackles the zeitgeist. This one explores the impact of machines on industry, and how they affected industrialization at the time of the Great Depression. The movie is a scathing look at people losing their livelihoods as a result of the growth of machines. The movie is an interesting and contains one of Chaplin’s most impressive sequences ever in a film.
City Lights (1931)
Along with The Great Dictator, people often view this movie as being among his best work. In the film, Chaplin plays The Tramp, his most famous creation, trying to get what he wants in a world that just won’t let him. It’s a funny, warm, and romantic movie, and certainly one of the best the great man ever made. It’s a movie that will bring a smile to your face, and it’s as captivating as it is whimsical.
These are just a few of the great movie performances that were given by Chaplin during his career. Of course, with an actor as accomplished and iconic, there are always going to be movies we didn’t choose for our list. But, these are the four we think best define and summarize his amazing career.