In the Slow Lane

Charlie Chaplin

Always thought Chaplin cantankerous, unAmerican, borderline evil.  Swallowed J. Edgar Hoover's rot without a thought.  If he wasn't God, he was his right hand man.  When old J. Edgar's reign ended, a lot of Americans gasped at the scope his spite and revenge. 


Well, I'm still gasping lo, these many years.  The 1992 movie, Chaplin, triggered my latest involuntary sucking of the breath. 1992!  Where were you?  Apparently with my head in the sand in the mountains of NC.  Anyhow, Robert Downey, Jr.'s performance as Charlie earned an Oscar nomination for best actor (Al Pacino won for Scent of a Woman) and a BAFTA nomination which he won.


This is a movie I'd take to a desert island.  (Listen, I'm pretty sure a smart phone could do it and any day now I'm going to get one.)  Outspoken, Chaplin was no saint, but a genius of creative, zany, intelligent humor.  Alas, his words raised the hackles of J. Edgar who pretty much messed up his life for awhile.


I, myself, saw this crabby man, Charlie not J. Edgar, up close and personal.  Around 1968 in an Oahu restaurant he dined with the gorgeous Oona and several children.  (He had a passel but only a few were there.)  Never would've recognized him, Oona was the tipoff. 


Anyhow, my eyes kept wandering to their table and he would have none of it.  Marched to our table, stuck his face in mine, "Vhy iss you schtaring at us?"  (How Chaplinesque, falling into the fake accent.)  I stammered, "I thought you were a very famous man."  "Thank you," he said dropping the accent as he stomped away.      


In the movie, the old age make-up was pretty close to that angry old face irritated by my staring,  Of course, Charlie was justified in his ire.  I was rude.   Besides, by then he was old and naturally crabby, about my age now.  But I have to tell you, sitting right here in the slow lane, I'm not as ugly as he was.  Sorry Charlie.  I am, however, a huge fan.  (No pun intended.) 





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