Sunday, December 27, 2009

Charlie Chaplin: Chasing a Tramp

When I think about the current movies and shows that make me laugh the most, it's often either heartwarming gross-out fare like The Hangover and Old School or things anchored in reality and nostalgia such Ferris Bueller's Day Off and TV's Freaks and Geeks. While they offer a good chuckle and some reminiscing for the good ole' days when life seemed to be a little simpler and more confusing, it's not very often that today's comedy offers us a lot of commentary on the world around us. Reflection, but not trying to look further. For example, I can relate to aspects of The Hangover, like seeing bits and pieces of friends and aquaintances in many of the characters. And while there`s some exploration of the dynamics of relationships - yes, even in all the genital jokes and Mike Tyson solos - it didn`t exactly make me think any deeper about my own relationships afterward. But comedy wasn`t always like this.

You may have heard of a guy named Charlie Chaplin. There was a time when he ruled the film world. He wasn`t just an icon like Brad Pitt or George Clooney, but rather he was also the artist behind the camera. Chaplin brought together comedy and commentary so well that he was forced into exile outside of the United States for being a potential Red threat.

Chaplin`s movies today can be enjoyed on several levels. If you just want to kick back and laugh at the slapstick humor, you can. But there`s also a lot of depth to what`s going on. Chaplin wasn`t just an entertainer but a thinker as well. And by using film as his canvas, he was able to reach millions with his messages in a funny and entertaining way.

Despite his lasting appeal, Chaplin has remained somewhat elusive in the hobby. There were several cigarette cards and similar items produced during his reign as king of the entertainment world, including a spot in the 1926 W512 set that mixed stars with athletes including Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. The cards were produced in strips, although many were cut.

Here are a few other Chaplin cards from the 1920s:

In this era of cut signatures and entire sets dedicated to pop culture, Chaplin has largely escaped the spotlight. He has two cut signature cards. The first was in 2004 Topps Tribute HOF where he appeared in the Signature Cuts Personalities insert set. Chaplin also had an autograph inserted into 2009 Donruss Americana. Both were limited to one copy.

More affordable is this card:

It`s also from 2009 Donruss Americana. It`s from the Movie Posters insert set, which includes classic artwork on the front. Here`s a shot of the back:

Yup, that`d be a piece of his clothing. Although not from a movie costume, it`s still cool to have a piece of a genuine legend. At 500 copies, it`s not too terribly tough to come by, nor is it overly expensive. I picked up this one, in which it would have been the hit of a $35 pack, for less than half that. Chaplin has two other memorabilia cards in the same set, one of which is a dual card featuring a piece of Claudette Colbert`s clothing.

1 comment:

Kim Sodano said...

Thank you for this little article. I just obtained one of the swatches of clothing cards #306/500. I found it on eBay. Do you happen to know what the article of clothing was that it was cut from?