The most towering figure in Hollywood history wore ill-fitting clothes, including shoes several sizes too big, and never said a word. Beginning Saturday, he'll be spending a year at Baltimore's Charles Theatre.
Charlie Chaplin, a British expatriate who became the first Hollywood superstar and made a series of films — as writer, director and star — still as astonishingly delightful today as they were in the 1920s, is the subject of a yearlong retrospective opening this weekend at the Charles. As part of the theater's happily eclectic weekend revival series, one Saturday a month will be devoted to the man given a special Oscar at the first Academy Awards presentation, in 1929, "for versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing 'The Circus.'" Forty-three years later, he received a second honorary Oscar, this time for "the incalculable effect he has had in making motion pictures the art form of this century."
The series begins Saturday with a triple feature of three Chaplin shorts, all with him playing the Little Tramp character — clothes either too small or too large, a flimsy cane, stub of a mustache and a walk that's more of a waddle — that would define his silent-screen persona. The shorts include "A Dog's Life" (1918), in which the Tramp finds himself unexpectedly saddled with a lost dog and some stolen loot; "Shoulder Arms" (1918), in which the Tramp finds himself fighting in the trenches during World War I; and "Sunnyside" (1919), in which the Tramp is a hapless farmhand struggling for the attention of the woman he loves.
Future films to be shown include 1921's "The Kid," his first feature-length film (March); 1921's "The Idle Class" (April); "A Woman of Paris," a 1923 drama Chaplin wrote and directed but does not appear in (May); 1928's "The Circus" (June); 1931's "City Lights" (July); 1936's "Modern Times" (August); 1940's "The Great Dictator," a parody of Hitler and Nazi Germany that was Chaplin's first talkie (September); 1925's "The Gold Rush" (October); 1947's "Monsieur Verdoux" (November); 1952's "Limelight," in which his co-stars include one of his few comedic peers, Buster Keaton (December); and 1957's "A King in New York" (January).
Showtime for the Saturday screenings is noon; each program will be repeated the following Monday at 7 p.m. and the following Thursday at 9 p.m. at the theater, 1711 N. Charles St. Call 410-727-FILM (3456) or go to thecharles.com.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun