I think this is sort of an odd comparison because their comedic styles are completely different.
Keaton was all-out slapstick humour, an instant riot; Chaplin was more of a social comedian who played off the nuances of society and all of that.
So I think it just boils down to which style you “get” more.
@Kindy Lying to your girlfriend for the best or worst of reasons is still lying. Lying being something that’s hard to generate sympathy with.
Keaton & Chaplin never lied as much as ended up in confusing situations. Which is why it’s easy to like them. But which is also why it’s easier to enjoy their movies. And see their humanity. (Whatever that means.)
i would have to say chaplin :)
To me the answer to this question is partly dependent on how you parse out your criteria. Is your opinion of how good each is as a director more important than your opinion of each as a comic actor?, writer?, etc.
Chaplin or Keaton? I’m definitely a Chaplin man.
PS: Elvis or The Beatles? I’m an Elvis man.
The comparison is completely pointless. They’re both their own filmmakers with their own points of view. As for the flack I saw Chaplin’s final two films get earlier in this thread, A King in New York is an excellent portrait of the state of America in the 1950’s, and is still relevant today. A Countess from Hong Kong, in the words of Andrew Sarris, is “the quintessence of everything Chaplin has ever felt.” Watch it with open eyes, gentleman, and you will discover something that is timeless and pure Chaplin.
@Groovy I KNEW it.
The Beatles/Evlis question is the same as the Chaplin/Keaton question! (Well, same answers … Chaplin = Elvis, Beatles = Keaton.) Actually this doesn’t prove anything. :(
Sherlock Jr and The General.
Chaplin is very sentimental. But he is my favorite director.
I saw Keaton first, but when I saw Chaplin, I definitely like him more than Keaton..
Keaton is slightly better to watch in groups.
Chaplin is a lot more personal.
Keaton might hit you better on first viewing, but Chaplin can be watched over and over to a higher degree.
While Keaton is more visually interesting, Chaplin had a much stronger overall understanding of how film worked as a whole. Keaton’s shorts (especially ‘Cops’) are better, but give me Chaplin’s features any day.
Of course, you can’t go too wrong with either.
And I can’t get over this thought process so many seem to hold that sentimentality equals bad…. why?
Charlie Chaplin or Charlie Chase?
I of course love them both. I dare not choose between them.
Keaton is a more gifted comedian and acrobat, no doubt about it. He’s funnier, and that amounts to quite a bit.
But Chaplin, it must be said, was (notice the switch to past-tense) something more than a simple filmmaker. He was a chief moral conscience of the 20th century, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating. He defended tramps; he blasted Hitler; he made potent argument against capitalism; and he responded to the disgusting Cold War-driven campaign against him with humor and grace. Not bad for a little bugger, I’d say.
I saw an interview with Richard Attenborough where he said something to the effect of “the only three truely great film makers were Akira Kurosawa, Satyajit Ray and Charlie Chaplin.”
But I prefer Buster Keaton.
Keaton, he’s actually funny. I might chuckle once or twice watching Chaplin but Keaton will make you laugh if you understand physical comedy at all. Keaton played his roles with more honesty and vitality than Chaplin. As for being a moral conscience of the 20th century, please. It was a carefully crafted ploy to play on the suffering of the lower classes. Chaplin exploited his viewers with cheap sentimentality, simplistic philosophy, and the generally overwrought nonsense that Hollywood has become known for.
To say that Chaplin exploited his viewers with cheap sentimentality is to betray your ignorance of the world that Chaplin came from and the times in which he made his movies. If his purpose was only to exploit the intelligence (or the lack of it) of the audience, he wouldn’t have taken the time he did on each picture. He would very well have gone the way of major studios by relying on formula. Neither would he have won the admiration of intellectuals like Bernard Shaw, HG Wells, Einstein, Freud and others.
If you do not enjoy Chaplin’s comedy, you just do not have the taste for subtlety and social satire. I am fond of Keaton and Chaplin, but a comparison between the two is simply futile.
Although I find Keaton as a very pecuiliar and extraordinary comedian, I would give it to Chaplin. Not only that I have grown up watching his films, but I also appreciate his daring to speak for the people, most of whom at that time belonged to lower class, against government policies and authorities. His films were very authentic, while also easily engaged me in his unforgettable persona of the Tramp. Some of his best works, such as City Lights, The Great Dictator and The Kid are my all-time favorites and, I believe, greatly contributed to the cinema.
Funnier, more creative with the camera and not a sex maniac – his attraction to young women is slightly disturbing. That personal stuff shouldn’t influence me I know but it does.
By ‘His’ I mean Charlie chaplin.
I prefer Keaton (as far as any comparison can be made of the two). Many people, I think, see Chaplin as the artist and Keaton as the comedian, but I think it is more complicated that that.
Chaplin was certainly the most self conscious artist of the two, especially when it comes to exploring issues of poverty, politics, and class. But I get the sense that Keaton knew more about human nature than Chaplin did.
James Agee on Chaplin:Of all comedians he worked most deeply and most shrewdly within a realization of what a human being is, and is up against. The Tramp is as centrally representative of humanity, as many-sided and as mysterious, as Hamlet, and it seems unlikely that any dancer or actor can ever have excelled him in eloquence, variety or poignancy of motion.
James Agee on Keaton:Much of the charm and edge of Keaton’s comedy, however, lay in the subtle leverages of expression he could work against his nominal dead pan. Keaton worked strictly for laughs, but his work came from so far inside a curious and original spirit that he achieved a great deal besides.[…] Beneath his lack of emotion he was also uninsistently sardonic; deep below[…]there was in his comedy a freezing whisper not of pathos but of melancholia. With the humor, the craftsmanship and the action there was often, besides, a fine, still and sometimes dreamlike beauty.(source)
Also, has anyone seen Preston Sturges’ The Sins of Harold Diddlebock? It is a fairly underrated comedy, I think, and Harold Lloyd is brilliant in his role. I think it is in the public domain, so it is fairly easy to watch (albeit, in a scratchy and blurry form). Also, the last I checked Beckett’s Film starring Keaton is fairly easy to find online as well.
“not a sex maniac – his attraction to young women is slightly disturbing. That personal stuff shouldn’t influence me I know but it does.”
Uh… so don’t read into Keaton’s love life, either, then.
Keaton, by a long shot. Along with Murnau, Eisenstein and Ozu. One of the Masters of the Silent Cinema. His style could play with the ideas of the frame as in Sherlock Jr. or reveal a grand topography as in The General. Also, I feel that his persona is more approachable today and more positive.
Chaplin really didn’t care about framing. He sharpened his technical skills abit in City Lights, but not to rival Keaton. He was only interested in putting the camera in a good place like a good seat in a comedy music hall. I’ve always found his self pitying and attitudes towards women off putting, which may be more of a bias on my part.