Charlie Chaplin’s series of 12 short films for The Mutual Film Company (known as “The Mutuals”) are widely regarded by film buffs as the pinnacle of his comic achievement. With the multi-talented genius as producer, director, screenplay writer and main star they launched him onto the world’s screens in such classics as The Immigrant, The Cure and The Adventurer.
Over the past few years Carl Davis, the master of the live cinema genre, has been inspired to write scores for six of these films, writing for an identical line-up of 16 (or 17) players. He has taken these new scores around the world, often presenting them as the first half of a standard orchestral concert, or as a curtain-raiser to a full-length feature.
Coinciding with the highly successful recent Chaplin Festival in London’s Royal Festival Hall given by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Davis, the British Film Institute have released these six films on DVD together with Carl’s brilliantly descriptive scores. They are available on Amazon and other sites, and from the BFI at www.bfi.org.uk.
Following the hugely successful Chaplin Festival staged by the London PO at the Festival Hall last November, Charles Spencer of the Daily Telegraph commented in connection with The Cure:
‘… the print was superb… Davis's accompanying music fitted the on-screen action like a glove… what I could deny to myself no longer was that Chaplin was indeed the comic genius so many crack him up to be. The delicacy of his movements, the way he delays his sight gags and offers ingenious variations on them, the sheer disconcerting presence of the man – at once charming, innocent, sexually ambiguous and faintly sinister – held me in complete thrall. The masochistic scenes with the cruel masseur, and with that great bearded, beetle-browed heavy Eric Campbell, whom at one stage Chaplin outrageously flirts with, touch the sublime. The movie offers 23 minutes of pure pleasure and endlessly prolific invention.’
Daily Telegraph (Charles Spencer), 2 December 2003