No More Flat Feet

Sub-Mack Sennett filmmaker,[1] sub-Max Linder actor,[2] Stavisky[3] of weeping unwed mothers and little orphans of Auteil, hail Chaplin, swindler of emotions, master-singer of suffering.

The cinematograph needed its Dellys. You have given it your works -- and your good works.

Since you claimed to stand for the weak and oppressed, attacking you seemed like attacking the weak and oppressed; but some have discerned the cop's nightstick behind the rattan cane.

You are "he who turns the other cheek and the other ass cheek," but we are young and good-looking, and when we hear suffering we reply Revolution.

You are a Max du Veuzit with flat feet, and we don't believe in the "absurd persecutions" you say you are the victim of.[4] The French for immigration service is advertizing agency. The kind of press conference you gave at Cherbourg would turn a complete dud into a sensation, so you needn't worry about the success of Limelight.[5]

Go to bed, you budding fascist. Make lots of money. Mingle with high society (bravo for the groveling before little [Queen] Elizabeth.) Die soon: we can guarantee you a first-class funeral.

May your latest film be your last.[6]

The footlights have melted the make-up of the supposedly brilliant mime. All we can see now is a lugubrious and mercenary old man.

Go home, Mister Chaplin.[7]

The Lettrist International:

[1] Chaplin joined Max Sennett (a director famous for the Keystone Kops) in 1913.

[2] Born in France, Gabriel Leuvielle ("Max Linder") is considered the father of silent comedy. Chaplin was a very big fan of his movies.

[3] A Russian emigre, Serge Alexander Stavisky was a swindler whose name is used here to connote theft.

[4] In America, the persecutions of Chaplin for his "communism" were quite real and quite devastating to Chaplin's reputation and career.

[5] It would appear that the Lettrists had not seen this film, which explicitly deals with the themes of Chaplin's aging, the relevance of his work, his stubbornness and egotism, etc.

[6] It wasn't. Chaplin followed it with A King In New York.

[7] This line in English in the original. As a matter of fact, Chaplin had been barred from re-entering America, where he'd lived for many years, once again for his "communist" sympathies.

(Distributed by the Lettrist International on 29 October 1952 at the hotel at which Charlie Chaplin held a press conference. Published in Internationale Lettriste #1, December 1952. Translated from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith and reprinted in Jean-Michel Mension, The Tribe [San Francisco: City Lights, 2001]. Footnotes by NOT BORED!)

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