film · music

The beauty of Chaplin’s Limelight

When it comes to the rivalry between those famous silent clowns, I have always been a bigger fan of Buster Keaton. It was Buster who made me fall in love with silent film and old Hollywood. However, it’s impossible for me to deny Charlie Chaplin’s genius. He was a master at what he did. He was a master film maker of the highest order – actor, writer, director… he was everything. His greatest achievement was his ability to mesh comedy and pathos together. You laughed…and you cried. I always get very emotional at the end of City Lights when the blind girl, finally able to see, realizes that it was Charlie, the little tramp, who paid for her surgery. Urgh…..the tears do flow.

Chaplin’s filmography is filled with wonderful  films – we all know The Gold Rush, Modern Times, City Lights, The Great Dictator etc etc but I  very rarely hear people talk about Limelight.
In Limelight, Charlie plays Calvero,  a once famous stage clown who now finds himself impoverished and forgotten. One night he saves a young dancer from committing suicide and proceeds to help her recover her health and her future. It is through this relationship that Calvero regains his own confidence.

Chaplin himself, composed the main theme for the movie and it is absolutely perfect. It is melancholy and hopeful at the same time – just like the film. Chaplin was able to create a perfect piece of music that completely encapsulates the tone of the movie. Every time i listen to  it I am transported back to the first time I saw the film. I feel those emotions deep in my gut and its almost enough to bring a tear to my eye. While this film was not Chaplin’s finale film, it really does feel like his farewell piece. A semi-autobiographical tale that looks back at his past and then hands the baton over to the  young new talent that is sure to come.
I highly recommend listening to this if you are a fan of music and/or film – and then I highly recommend watching Limelight itself. (P.S Also worth noting that my boo Buster  has a small role in the film as another washed-up comedian of the past which is moving in of itself. Two giant stars of the silent era – rivals-  together on screen.)

Two wonderful different versions of the same piece of music


pop culture

Weird celebrity deaths.

2016 has been a year of loss. David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey….  I mean the list feels endless this year. As someone obsessed with pop culture and music, it has been tough. We may not have known these people but they do become important to us. They are the soundtracks of our lives, our heroes, our inspirations, our childhood. So when they leave it’s hard not feel a sense of loss.
In an attempt to deal with my own sadness, I began to look into other cases of public grief in response to celebrity deaths.

The death of Valentino in  1926 caused mass hysteria, with some women even killing themselves in their grief. There was worldwide shock when John Lennon was murdered. This wasn’t just any singer, this was a Beatle…The Beatle for a lot of people. You can’t watch the footage of the thousands of people standing outside The Dakota singing ‘Give Peace a Chance’ and not see how intense the public grief was. And of course, we practically broke the Internet when Michael Jackson died in 2009. So, I realized  grief at the death of a celebrity is really nothing new, it’s been around for as long as celebrities have. It was strangely comforting to know that I wasn’t alone.

I also began to realize something else. Many celebrities have died in circumstances that are weird, unusual or just plain mysterious. Here are a few interesting ones:

Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley was a rising star, certain to take over the world. I listen to his album Grace and actually get angry, angry because he was so damn good and he never really got a chance to show his full potential.The somewhat mysterious nature of his death has become something of a rock’n’roll myth. One night, Jeff decided to go swimming in Wolf River Harbor  with his boots and clothes still on, singing a Led Zeppelin tune. He then vanished and his body was found a few days later. Though his death was ruled as an accidental drowning, many people still find the whole thing strange.

Leslie Howard

Leslie Howard was an incredible actor, in my opinion one of the best of the early 20th century and sadly, one that is often forgotten. Sure, anyone whose seen Gone with the wind may know him as Ashley but beyond that, it seems not many people even know who he is…or how how he died.

During the second world war, Howard offered his services to the British Government, where he was involved in propaganda broadcasts. He was killed in 1943 when the Luftwaffe shot down the civilian plane he was flying in.


Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood was an incredibly gifted child-actress who grew up to be one of Hollywood’s most beautiful leading ladies.  Natalie drowned in 1981, while out on a yacht with her husband Robert Wagner and friend Christopher Walken. Natalie’s body was found one mile away from the boat and the autopsy report revealed that she had bruises on her body and arms as well as an abrasion on her left cheek.  The true nature of her death is still being investigated to this day.


Brandon Lee

Brandon Lee was the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee. He was just at the beginning of his own career in film when he died. I truly believe that Brandon could have been a big star. He was handsome, athletic, talented in martial arts and had a wonderful stage presence.  Unfortunately he died way too young, just like his talented father. He died of a gunshot wound at the age of 28, after an accidental shooting on set of cult-classic The Crow. If you haven’t seen it…. go do that now. You won’t regret it. One of the best performances I’ve ever seen. If Brandon had to be remembered for only one of his performances, I’m glad it was one as iconic as this one. I must admit, I am definitely a little iffy about them remaking this one.

Natalie Wood’s Rebel without a cause co-star Sal Mineo was stabbed to death
David Carradine died from auto-erotic asphyxiation
Jayne Mansfield was partially decapitated in a car accident
Marvin Gaye was shot and killed by his own father
Steve Irwin was stabbed in the heart with a sting-ray barb
Sonny Bono died in a skiing accident
Brian  Jones was found floating in a swimming pool
Florence Lawrence killed herself by eating ant paste
Bob Crane was found bludgeoned with electrical cord wrapped around his neck
Marie Prevost drank herself  to death and her body was found half eaten by her Dachshund and Sharon Tate was murdered by the Manson family…. I mean the list goes on and on and on …..