On the subject of Charlie Chaplin…

Glad everyone seemed to enjoy yesterday’s post about the links between Fiat racing cars of a century ago and contemporary Hollywood. While gearing up for further stories that connect to Mack Sennett, the Keystone studios and their connection to the motor racing and aviation world, to be told over the Festive Season, I thought it well worth posting a bit more of Charlie Chaplin’s magic.

The single reel of Kid Auto Races at Venice marked the public debut on Charlie Chaplin’s ‘little tramp’ character when it was released on 7 February 1914. Once again, as in Mabel Takes the Wheel, the movie was shot live on the streets of Santa Monica – this time when the Junior Vanderbilt Cup was held: a soap box derby with all the bells and whistles.

Once again, Chaplin proved to be fearless in pursuing his art in front of racing vehicles. And, once again, some of the fervour that surrounded motor racing in the days before World War 1 can be gleaned from the crowds he clearly amuses and irritates in equal measure.

The tramp himself may not yet be the complete article in Kid Auto Races, but it is nevertheless a film which anticipates those irksome types who stand on David Coulthard’s shoulder in the F1 paddock, mobile phones in hand, prattling on at their friends to let them know that they’re on TV. Enjoy…


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