Charly Chaplin & Buster Keaton video: music vs. comedy!

Text by Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi

When I was very young watching TV was something special in my life. Watching TV was more than entertainment…it was education! It taught me something new everyday. I became a different person after a while. One of my favorite programs was a silent movie comedy show which was shown once every week. My younger brother and I watched it together. After the show finished, we went to bed with a joy and satisfaction.

All important comedians were featured, such as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Harold Lloyd, Harry Langdon, and many more. But the first three ones were my favorite ones. They made comedy into an art form. Comedy was not only used to entertain people but also to make them aware of social and political issues in a funny way. Music played also an important role. On one hand it was a very important voice in expressing human feelings and communication, and on the other hand it supported the performance of the actors.

All this said, please watch this video which features the maestros Chaplin and Keaton in Limelight.



About the movie

Limelight is a 1952 comedy-drama film which was  directed, written  and starred by Charlie Chaplin. Co-starring Claire Bloom, with an appearance by Buster Keaton. The film score was composed by Chaplin.

The pairing of Chaplin and Buster Keaton in the final musical number is historic for being the only time the two appeared on film together. Chaplin at first had not written the part for Keaton because he believed that the role was too small. It was not until he learned that Keaton was going through hard times (before Limelight, Keaton had gone through a disastrous marriage, lost most of his fortune in the divorce in the process, and had appeared infrequently in films over the previous years) that Chaplin insisted that Keaton should be cast in the film. A rumor has persisted, fueled by the intense rivalry among fans of the two comics, that Keaton gave such a superior performance that Chaplin jealously cut his scenes so he would not be upstaged by his rival. A close associate of Chaplin claimed that Chaplin not only did not feel threatened by Keaton’s performance, but also heavily edited his own footage of the duet while enhancing Keaton’s. According to Keaton’s biographer Rudi Blesh, Chaplin eased his notoriously rigid directorial style to give Keaton free rein to invent his own comic business during this sequence. Keaton’s widow Eleanor claimed that Buster was thrilled with his appearance in the film, and believed his business partner Raymond Rohauer started and fed the rumors. Chaplin’s son Sydney, who also appeared in the film, said that even if some of Keaton’s best scenes were cut (which he did not believe), the storyline would not logically allow a supporting actor to suddenly appear and upstage the climactic comeback of Chaplin’s character.

The film was released amidst scandal, since it was during touring to support the film that Chaplin was refused re-admittance to the United States. The film was subsequently passed over by many theaters. In 1972, the film was given a wide U.S. release and honored at the Academy Awards.