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Movie Mom

New Chaplin Bio from Stephen M. Weissman

posted by Nell Minow

Chaplin: A Life is a splendid new biography of one of the most brilliant performers of the 20th century by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Stephen M. Weissman.


It has received glowing reviews from both of the most prestigious publishing journals:

“A fresh entry in the evergreen field of works devoted to Charlie Chaplin. If ever an artist’s life lent itself to psychoanalysis, it’s Chaplin’s. . . . Weissman lends dimension to the classics . . . and demonstrates Chaplin’s ability to transform family heartbreak into film comedies. . . . With lean, energetic prose, Weissman brings this colorful theatrical period to life. . . . He offers vivid sketches . . .and carefully follows the confluence of several artists that lead to the creation of the Chaplin’s iconic Little Tramp. Throughout the book,the author caps exhaustive sourcing with an overlay of insightful observations about Chaplin’s creative process. Find space on the crowded Chaplin shelf for this perceptive, literate take on the great screen clown.”
-Kirkus Reviews


“Weissman uncovers the source for the “shabby gentility” of the Little Tramp, as well as the development of that extraordinary character. En route, he paints an engaging…portrait of how a cinema artist is created and how he practices his craft.”
-Publishers Weekly

But its most important review comes from Chaplin’s daughter Geraldine, who contributed an introduction that reads in part:

It is unlike anything that has ever been written about my father. Weissman weaves a psychologically astute narrative of Chaplin’s life and art, brilliantly exploring the relationships between experience and creativity….Weissman probes into the psychological explanation of the closest human bonds. It is uncanny how intuitively correct a trained outside investigator’s conclusions can turn out to be. This book, always provocative and at times heart-wrenching, is an enlightening read, an important addition to an understanding of my father’s genius and art, and a unique meditation on the mystery of creativity.


The book beautifully illuminates the sources and influences that inspired Chaplin’s unique combination of grace, humor, and poignancy. And Weissman has created a website about Chaplin that, like the book, is an extraordinary and insightful resource for fans and scholars. Its video clips, photo essays, and links enrich our understanding of an appreciation for this treasured icon.


  • Emily

    Steve has done an astonishing job. i look forward to immersing myself in this study….congratulations!

  • Mark

    It took me years to appreciate the art of Chaplin — his seemingly simple slapstick has so much depth and heart. I always found it ironic that one of the best filmmakers was also one of the first filmmakers. He truly was an artist as important as DaVinci or Picasso. You included one of my favorite Chaplin scenes — the globe dance from ‘The Great Dictator’. My other favorite is the last scene in ‘City Lights’ — it still breaks my heart everytime I see it…

  • Nell Minow

    The last scene in “City Lights” is one of the finest — and most heart-wrenching — moments in the history of film. But I didn’t want to post it and give away the ending. I love to see new generations rediscover Chaplin and hope this new book will inspire audiences to watch and re-watch some of the classics.

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