100 years ago today at the old Portland Hotel, on the location of what is now Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, Oregon, a Englishman signed his first ever film contract with Keystone Studios. It was a significant moment. In 5 short years he would go from promising London stage performer to the twentieth century’s most recognised man.
That man was
Simon Cowell Charles Chaplin.
The intervening century has seen a lot of developments in cinema – the advent of sound, Technicolor, the rise and demise of 3D, Tom Cruise, Dolby Surround Sound, the rise of 3D a second time – but despite this Chaplin’s films still feel as entertaining and inspiring today as they did almost 100 years ago. To me, at least.
Another interesting sidenote to this story is that Keystone also almost signed Chaplin’s English roommate in Portland, but eventually decided against it. He didn’t have a bad career though. His name was Stan Laurel.
I went back to the square in Portland recently to pay my tributes to the great man, take some photos (with the help of Randall Garcia) and reflect on why I still consider Chaplin to be my biggest inspiration in filmmaking and comedy.
I’m in the process of writing an article on him, which I’m hoping to get published. If anyone has any publications they think might be interested then please get in touch.
Perhaps today you can observe a moment of silence, and even trip over a bucket, in tribute to the Little Tramp. Cheers Charlie!