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A must-see for Chaplin fans
Chuck-788 December 1998
"A King in New York" is one of those few films that gets better and better every time you see it.

Yes, it's flawed--the sets look shabby, and some of the dialogue is stilted and melodramatic. Yet despite these shortcomings, AKINY still stands out as a wonderful, playful satire of 1950's America.

For those of you who may not know, Chaplin himself was targetted by the U.S. government at the time for his alleged communist leanings. In fact, AKINY had to be shot in Britain (Chaplin's birthplace) only because Chaplin and his family had been forbidden to re-enter the U.S after a short vacation overseas.

AKINY was Chaplin's response to the nonsense and paranoia that pervaded American society at that time. Chaplin also pokes fun at America's obsession with technology and the media--a point which is even more relevant today.

Chaplin plays King Shahdov, a deposed monarch who flees to America in the hopes of selling his plans for a peaceful, nuclear-based society (which never happens). Chaplin plays Shahdov as an honest, but hapless European monarch thrust into the dizzying whirl of modern America. Chaplin is at his absolute best here as a befuddled and somewhat puzzled outsider.

Shahdov soon meets up with two people. The first is Ann Kay (Dawn Addams), a beautiful young woman who seduces the King and lures him into appearing in her television commercials, and Rupert Macabee (played by Chaplin's son, Michael), a brilliant young boy whose parents have been imprisoned by HUAC. Also worth noting is Ambassador Jaume (Oliver Johnston), Shahdov's loyal friend and confidante. Johnston and Chaplin play off each other beautifully, and together they share some of the film's funniest moments.

AKINY is full of priceless "bits of business," as Chaplin used to say--there's a hilarious restaurant scene in which Chaplin mimes his order to the waiter in order to overcome the dreadful racket from the house band.

Then there's the scene in which Shahdov's newly lifted face become "unhinged" as he bursts into laughter at a comedy show. Chaplin slyly slips in and out of these bits (which are essentially silent comedy pantomimes dating back to his earliest days in English Music Halls) with great ease.

Such scenes provide the most satisfying moments in the film. Here, behind Chaplin's aged face and body, you can still see the little tramp come to life, and it's wonderful.

AKINY is vastly underrated by most critics who, for some reason, obsess over the sets, and virtually ignore what is truly one of Chaplin's masterpieces. AKINY is rarely screened in North America for some reason, so if you get the chance to see it, don't pass it up.
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Once again, Chaplin greatness comes through
Primtime6 December 1998
A King In New York was a pure delight to watch. Seeing perhaps the greatest actor of the first half of the century is always a treat and he doesn't disappoint in this film. Chaplin made this satire as a shot at the United States, who only five years earlier had denied him re-entry into the country. This was based on the fact he wouldn't come before the McCarthy hearing and make a statement on his supposed ties to the Communist party. Regardless of the basis for this film's comedy pieces, one can find a few moments where Chaplin is taking a direct shot at those who had doubted him.

The plot involves Chaplin as King Shadov, a ruler of a ficticious country whose people have ousted him based on his unwillingness to manufacture Atomic Bombs. He would rather spend the taxpayers money on finding ways to create atomic energy. Obviously this is a deliberate analogy of Chaplin being thought of as a communist although the complete opposite was the truth. So, the exiled leader goes to America in search of a fun vacation in which he can experience the excitement that he had heard about so many times before. The viewer follows Shadof and his trust aide throughout New York City and their many hilarious experiences. The best of which that come to mind are the scenes in which Chaplin pantomimes his order to a waiter who cannot hear him, the scene in which Chaplin recites the famous "to be or not to be" soliloque from Hamlet to guests at a dinner party and the scene in which Chaplin gets his finger stuck in a fire hose and cannot get it out.

One can see some elements of the tramp in Chaplin in this film including the facial expressions, his smile and the way he moves about gracefully. I had never seen Chaplin in a talking film before this one and was somewhat surprised to see how much of a great talking actor he truly is. For an actor who had done so much in silent films and only silent films, this film shows that Chaplin is one of the top actors of this century.

The only element of this film that somewhat disappointed me was the manner in which the hearings were brushed off. I believe that there was plenty of room for some gags to be thrown in here. Perhaps Chaplin felt as if he had already taken enough shots and didn't need to exploit this area.

This film is yet another example of the Chaplin greatness and I would recommend it to anyone who loves films or are interested in seeing film making magic.

8/10 stars.
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"Do I have to be a Communist to read Karl Marx?"
ackstasis12 December 2007
Charles Chaplin had a love-hate relationship with the United States of America. On the one hand, it was in Hollywood that the British-born comedian and filmmaker built a successful life and career, immortalising himself as one of the most beloved directors and stars in the history of cinema. On the other hand, Chaplin's political attitudes during the 1940s – that America should form an alliance with the Soviet Union in order to fight Adolf Hitler's fascist regime – led to his being labelled a Communist or Communist sympathiser. In 1952, Chaplin returned to his home-town of London for the premiere of the brilliant 'Limelight (1952),' where he was greeted with great enthusiasm, though with his arrival came the news that the American government had rescinded his re-entry visa into the United States. Over the next few years, the aging filmmaker toyed with numerous ideas for his next film – including a possible resurrection of the Little Tramp – before settling upon 'A King in New York,' whose screenplay took about two years to complete.

'A King in New York (1957)' tells the story of King Shahdov (Chaplin), a dethroned monarch who seeks refuge in the United States, his entire wealth cunningly stolen from him. The film starts off as an amiable slapstick comedy, which is basically what I had been expecting, before branching off into darker territory, become a scathing satiric assault on almost everything that America stands for. When he first arrives in the country, King Shahdov revels in the peace and liberty of this grand nation, exclaiming to his dedicated ambassador, Jaume (Oliver Johnston): "if you knew what it means to breathe this free air. This wonderful, wonderful America. Its youth, its genius, its vitality!" However, through his relationship with a brilliant young boy, Rupert Macabee (Chaplin's own son, Michael), whose parents happen to be members of the Communist party, Shahdov becomes embroiled in the period's rampant McCarthyist witch-hunts, revealing the devastating truth that perhaps America's notions of freedom have become a mere illusion.

Despite Chaplin's insistence that "my picture isn't political," it most undoubtedly is, with the director – just as he did in the final scenes of 'Monsieur Verdoux (1947)' – evidently expressing his distaste for what society has become. It's easy to dismiss 'A King in New York' as pro-socialist propaganda, but to do so would be completely missing the very idea behind the film. Personally, I'm unsure of Chaplin's official stance on Communism itself, but the filmmaker certainly reviled the manner in which the United States government approached the issue, citing it as an immoral invasion of privacy and liberty. Chaplin described himself as having no political convictions: "I am an individualist, and I believe in liberty." Perhaps referring to the Hollywood blacklist, he once said: "These are days of turmoil and strife and bitterness. This is not the day of great artists; this is the day of politics."

'A King in New York' was filmed at Shepparton Studios in London, and the film does a very successful job of imitating the hustle-and-bustle of the Big Apple. As well as expressing his stance on McCarthyism, Chaplin also aims a few effective jabs at commercialisation and popular culture, prophetically predicting the prominence of commercial chain-stores, cosmetic surgery and reality television {when King Shahdov is unwittingly coaxed into attending a televised dinner party, continually baffled as to why his lady interest (Dawn Addams) keeps unexpectedly launching into advertisements}. Though my review has stressed the political implications of the film, 'A King in New York' also works pretty well as a light comedy, and I almost died laughing when Chaplin walked into the House Committee on Un-American Activities with a fire-hose attached to his finger. Michael Chaplin's impassioned tirades on the degradation of America were also a riot to watch, even if the young actor can occasionally be spotted mouthing his father's lines. Owing to its somewhat disagreeable stance towards the United States, Chaplin was unable to find any willing American distributors, and so 'A King in New York' remained unseen there until the 1970s. "Freedom of speech," indeed.
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Vastly undervalued Chaplin masterpiece
zetes1 March 2003
It's not only one of Chaplin's best films, but one of the most important films about America ever made. Thrown out of the US for his liberal views, Chaplin became very irate at America. This is his response, a bare-knuckle boxing match with Uncle Sam - and this tramp doesn't pull punches. He doesn't leave a stone unturned, movies, music, high culture, television, education, fame, and especially the communist witch hunts. Best of all, he still exhibits his comic brilliance, and almost all the jokes land. Chaplin's son Michael is very good as a young boy who espouses communist ideals without the slightest provocation. The film ends without resolution, as this dark period of American history was still going strong. Only the hope that it is only a phase is expressed, but otherwise, the darkness is left to brood. People have accused the film of not being subtle, but it is far more so than the infinitely more popular The Great Dictator, and also more so than his other two talkies, Monsieur Verdoux and Limelight. All of those films are great, but they all end up with Chaplin telling us directly what he wants us to walk away with. A King of New York is, even if it has its clunky moments, an exceptional achievement. It's about time that it was rediscovered. 10/10.
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very uneven but well worth seeing
MartinHafer1 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This was the last film starring Charlie Chaplin and he went on to do only a very brief cameo in the last film he directed, THE COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG. And, while it lacks the quality of many of his famous full-length films, it is well worth your time.

One of the reasons I say that the film lacks quality is the unevenness of the film. While the music Chaplin composed is very good and parts of the film are quite touching, other parts look a bit choppy and some of the camera work is rough. But, considering that mediocre Chaplin is still head and shoulders above most other work, this can all be forgiven.

Chaplin plays the deposed benevolent king of a fictional European country. When he arrives in America, he is treated like a celebrity and he intends to make it his new home. However, over time his opinion about living here sours--partly due to the intensity and shallowness of American culture but mostly due to the zealous anti-Communist movement of the day.

The film consists of two parts. The initial portion is pretty light-hearted and involves Chaplin's becoming acquainted with American culture (such as TV, Rock and Roll and even plastic surgery). While I have heard some comment that this makes the movie seem too episodic and lacks focus, I actually liked this part and found it charming--even though not all the gentle ribbing worked in every case.

The second part begins when Chaplin visits an odd "progressive school" in the city. Here children are encouraged to express themselves and avoid inhibitions. In reality, it means that the kids are brats and have absolutely no discipline. This is a pretty funny segment--particularly when Chaplin is introduced to the editor of the school paper (actually played by Chaplin's 10 year-old son, Michael). This kid (Rupert) is incredibly obnoxious and instead of discussing politics with the democratic-natured king, he "speachifies" about the evils of all government and sounds a lot like Leon Trotsky! Although it is not apparent at first, this little vignette actually changes the course of the film. A bit later, Rupert is seen wandering about New York in the snow all alone. The king sees him and takes pity despite their political differences. He feeds and clothes the kid and Rupert repays him by telling people that he is the king's nephew. Well, people think that because the kid sounds like a Communist that the king must also be one--leading to a lot of confusion and a few laughs.

It turns out that the kid had run away from the school after his parent had been forced to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The parents admit that they had been Communists in the past but refused to implicate others, so they are jailed for contempt. Next, the committee subpoenas Chaplin to testify while federal agents begin badgering Rupert to get him to talk. This leads to a very tiring and badly written part of the film. On the way to testify, Chaplin gets his finger stuck in a fire hose and he eventually has to charge into the committee room with it still stuck on his hand. Then, the hose gets connected to another hose and turned on--at which point, Chaplin thoroughly douses the committee. This part of the film just isn't very funny and lasts way too long.

Despite this hosing, the scene abruptly ends and newspapers announce that Chaplin is cleared and he is once again beloved by the American people. Why and how this occurs is beyond me, as the last scene ended with the committee charging him with contempt! It is like there is a missing scene explaining how this all occurred. Regardless, Chaplin is tired of the hysteria about Communism and vows to return to Europe. On the way, he stops to see Rupert and finds his spirit is broken...as Rupert was tricked into betraying his parents' former associates. The film then ends as it shows Chaplin and his trusted aid flying out of New York.

While Chaplin denied that this film was an attempt to get back at America for its shabby treatment of him in the early 50s, it is pretty obvious that this movie is a comedic and very poignant attempt to do precisely that. It reminds me a lot of the Woody Allen film THE FRONT, though it preceded it by almost two decades. While it was true that there was significant infiltration of our government by Stalinist spies (based on recent data released by the Kremlin), along with legitimate concerns many innocent people were hurt just because of their political leanings. Chaplin's leftist beliefs and movies that depicted the little guy as being oppressed by an uncaring Capitalist society came back to haunt him during this era of fear. In the end, he was forced to return to Europe to live out the remainder of his life. So, in many, many ways, this movie was an autobiographical film wrapped in comedy.

Now as for the good and the bad about this film. The film has many amusing little segments and is quite charming. Its autobiographical aspects make for an interesting insight into Chaplin's psyche and even without that, it is a pretty good film.
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it's a bit more biting in its view of people (specifically Americans and capitalism), but it's still very funny
MisterWhiplash27 July 2007
Charlie Chaplin's A King in New York is a fine film to see when it's a laid-back afternoon and it comes on TV, as it's a bit of a surprise to come upon. It's a later Chaplin film, where he's no longer the iconic Tramp, yet in a way the logic of one of those films in terms of the society at large is still being toyed with. This time, instead of being on poverty row with holes in his shoes and a sweet and enduring love for a street girl, he plays a king whose country has gone to war and without many prospects financially comes to America to do commercials for products that he would surely rather not be pushing on the public. As life does imitate art (as far as the stereotype goes it does have a ring of constant truth), Chaplin at the time was an exile, kicked out of America for being a supposed communist, and with his non-prolific career going a little bit on the slide, he made the film as a quasi-light attack on American consumerism, of the vanity and stupidity that can come out of prosperity.

But at the same time, there is still the sensibility that Chaplin loves life and individuals, if not certain groups. This can be seen in the child character- one of Chaplin's own sons- who through his very intelligent but arrogant manner is one of the nicer and funniest characters in the film. While a lot of the humor, sometimes rather dry, is in seeing Chaplin's King and his assistant/butler talk of money problems and in the observations of the 'other', the best scenes come in showing what levels King Shadhov has to sink to in trying to pay his expensive hotel bills and stay afloat in a strange land. My favorite scenes where Shadhov's botched plastic surgery debacle, where it's funnier seeing the King trying not to laugh at a slapstick spectacle than the actual spectacle itself, and the scenes of the King trying to shill the items, often to the dissatisfied directors (I'm reminded of Lost in Translation, and in fact Chaplin's scenes are probably more successful than Coppola's).

Although the film is preachy at times- it's best when Chaplin goes for the more succinct jabs as opposed to the grandstanding, ironic since it worked perfectly at the end of the Great Dictator- the overall high-spirited and serenely theatrical direction makes this a worthwhile effort. Far from being the controversial film it got a reputation as following a non-release in the 50s in the US, it's only a cunning satire, with moments light and foreboding, and it deserves to be seen just as much as Chaplin's classics (if only by his fans, who might be apprehensive at the filmmaker making too many 'statements').
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The Genius of Chaplin.
JasonT41316 July 2004
A great film that was neglected by the good old US of A when it was released in the late 50's. It was brandished as being to critical of the political atmosphere of the United States at the time. It's funny that Chaplin could manage to offend both Adolf Hitler (The Great Dictator) and the fascist-like/inspired 'anti-communist' movement of the 50's/early 60's U.S.A. There is actually a common link in those two movements (Naziism and the 50-60's 'anti-communist movement in the USA but I won't get into that here). Anyway, it is sad that this film is overlooked as it is one of Chaplin's best and should be looked as one in a career overview of this great filmmaker. Besides him, in the film there really is not any awe-inspiring actor/actress but Chaplin brings out the best in everyone and elevates them from eternal anonymity to something of recognition. His son Michael Chaplin for example is used quite wonderfully in this film. I later bought Michael Chaplin's late teenage memoir 'I Couldn't Smoke the Grass on my Father's Lawn' based on seeing him in this film and him impressing me so. It's too bad he could not develop more as an actor or recording star (he released a single in Britain in the mid-60's). I heartily recommend this film. See it and be open minded. Take a look at the way your country was run 50 years ago and ask yourself have things really changed this day in age when the 'communists' have know been replaced by the 'terrorists'.
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Instantly my favorite Chaplin film for its sheer brilliance.
Jorge Bernardo6 April 2001
When I rented this movie, I had no idae what to expect. Charlie Chaplin in a talkie?! I had just seen (heard?) how poor Buster Keaton's awful voice destroyed his presence as the classic stone-faced pantomine. Might Mr. Chaplin's performance in a speaking role be as sadly disappointing???

The answer in a resounding word was, "NO!" If anything, Chaplin's voice and accompanying ability to express himself with words enhanced his screen presence by providing a new dimension with which to appreciate his seemingly limitless talent.

I'm not sure just how to explain this other than the fact that I watched most of the film with a big grin glued to my face. I marvelled at the subtleties of Chaplin's performance which distinguish him not only as a silent movie actor, but as an actor of ANY era! In today's world of over-the-top silliness and questionable acting passing as good comedy, his performance is a clear indication that intelligent comedy is not an oxymoron and that the "King" of it is the same person as the king of slapstick.

If you're the kind of person who appreciates the subtlety in Woody Allen's humor, you will find yourself marvelling at "A King in New York" and you will see (and hear!) a part of Charlie Chaplin you may not ever have known existed.
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"When I think of a million dollars, tears come to my eyes"
Enoch Sneed9 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I am pleased to find I'm not the only reviewer who thinks this film is an overlooked part of the Chaplin filmography. It contains some very pungent observations on the American way of life and American society which are still relevant today.

Apart from popular culture and materialism, Chaplin takes very careful aim at the "Reds under the bed" hysteria of the 1950's (the equivalent of this century's "war on terror"). He tells the story through the character of a young boy whose parents are charged with contempt by the HUAC. When the boy goes on the run and finds shelter with King Shahdov he is collected by an apparently kindly and fatherly law officer. Later, however, we see him put under enormous psychological pressure to name his parents' friends (the so-called "fellow travellers").

The boy's final appearance is very moving. His school superintendent says "how well" Rupert is doing. All we see is someone whose spirit has been broken, and who is tormented by guilt and shame - all in the name of the Land of the Free.

This film is very well worth watching, and not just in the context of its own times.
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Delightful Surprise
rube242410 April 2004
When I was a child, Charlie Chaplin's name was anathema. Here was the

personification of the "Red Peril," made worse still by the fact that we

had loved and trusted him through a lifetime of film. When A KING IN NEW

YORK came out it couldn't even get a distributor in the U.S. so virulent

was the hatred for "turncoat" Charlie.

Now, forty seven years later, and thanks tp the amazing TCM, I have

finally seen A KING IN NEW YORK and though it is somewhat uneven and

episodic, I believe it to be one of the best of Chaplin's films.

A mixture of broad slapstick and wry and subtle satire, the film is

often hilarious while at the same time touching and thought provoking.

Satire has to be the hardest form of art to translate to the screen and

there are few films that even try to tackle it, (Frank Tashlin's

hilarious WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER? one delightful example), so A

KING IN NEW YORK is welcome as an attempt to satirize a rather

unsettling time in US history.

There are many brilliant scenes in A KING IN NEW YORK; the ones in the

movie theater, at the "Montesori" type school and shooting the Scotch

commercial among the best. Above all, the warmth, humanity and total

befuddlement of the King, as performed by Chaplin, is the glue that

holds the enterprise together.

In every frame, Chaplin is mesmerizing and Dawn Addams, playing it way

over the top as the epitome of the "woman in the grey flannel suit"

(one, by the way,that is covered by a floor length mink!), is a constant

delight. Excellent too is Michael Chaplin, the director's son, as a

young genius who spouts the joys of Communism at the drop of a hat.

Joe McCarthy is gone (so far!), Chaplin is dead and we are left in yet

another unsure world. Comedy, as always, will help get us through. A

KING IN NEW YORK gives us that comedic respite, while proving, so many

years later, that governments are, after all, transitory things while

art last forever.

A comedic gem!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Chaplin was way ahead of his time on film & America
Carl Christensen23 February 2001
What I find amazing is that even in the year 2001 people are so brain-washed by our corporate media that they can complain about Chaplin's bashing the McArthy era. This embarassing chapter in America's history (up there with slavery, the "Jim Crow" south, and Japanese internment camps of WW2) was responsible for thousands of Hollywood job losses, the imprisonment of the great writer Ring Lardner, the expatriation of Chaplin, Paul Robeson, et al.

And all of this for a ridiculous "witch hunt" by some sanctimonious & hypocritical power-hungry politicians; with trumped up hearings gathered together faster than you can say "Monica." Well eventually it ended up backfiring on the anti-commie crowd of course, although I guess sure helped Ronald Reagan to be president of the Screen Actors Guild, then CA, and the White House weren't far behind (easy when you sell out enough I guess).

But gee, since Chaplin was up against these zealots (who are the real "anti-American" ones if people actually knew their history), I suppose we should be able to forgive him for not being so subtle in "A King in New York!"
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Another Vastly Underrated Chaplin Film
thinkkam30 March 2000
This is the best film dealing with the communist witch trials I have ever seen. It is black-comedic spoof on a subject that still hasn't been spoofed enough...the UnAmerican Activities Hearings. Sure it has a funny and effective "european royalty thrown into American culture" plot but this film really has more serious and important plans for the viewer....

Watch it and don't feel guilty think
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Charlie Chaplin's own experiences
Lee Eisenberg6 November 2012
Having gotten barred from reentering the US in 1952, Charlie Chaplin moved to Europe, where he spent the rest of his life (returning to the US only in 1972 when the Academy Awards gave him an honorary Oscar). His final starring role was "A King in New York", which appears to be based on his personal experiences. He plays a monarch who flees a revolution in a fictional country, moving to the Big Apple where he accidentally becomes a TV star. But he gets stigmatized after befriending the son of communists. The highlight is when he turns the HUAC hearings into a water park.

As can be expected, the movie didn't get released in the US for a few years. It's amazing that there are still idiots who think that HUAC was a noble cause (but what do you expect from a bunch of morons who get all their "information" from Rush Limbaugh and Fox Noise?). Anyway, CC's final starring role is a really great one. He directed one final movie, "A Countess from Hong Kong" starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren (it was an OK movie).
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The Complete Chaplin!
jeremy331 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Of course, Charlie Chaplin is mostly remembered for non-speaking roles. A King In New York is a satire by Chaplin about his impressions of America. It is refreshing to see a movie that is critical of America. Chaplin plays a king of a fictitious eastern European country who is forced, due to a coup, to flee to New York City. Chaplin show his versatility as a talking actor by really sincerely getting down the mannerisms of a European monarch. He is an older man, but very charming. Soon, however, the king finds that his natural goodness and true compassion is exploited by commercialism and political opportunism. At first the king is entranced by America's freedom, but soon discovers that American is a brash society of loud big bands, and brash advertising and movies. When the king finds himself broke, he is used by a beautiful young woman (Addams) to do advertisements. Addams excellently plays the superficial American. She is always smiling, but ever criticizing about the monarchs age and lack of television persona. When he gets self-conscious, she says 'No, you're great. You just can't appear on TV with a sagging face'. She convinces him to get a face lift, but it ends up that his face is so tight that if he laughs, he will end up in the hospital. The evening after the face lift, he unfortunately goes to a club and is subjected to slapstick humor that literally forces him to go back for emergency surgery.

The movie's only flaw is that at times it gets a little dull. Other than that it is a brilliant look at America - where image and appearance are everything. The climax of the movie deals with McCarthyism. For dare helping out the child of disgraced communists (the child played by Chaplin's real life son), the king is forced before the Committee On UnAmerican Activities. The conclusion of the movie is very funny. In conclusion, this movie displays the full range of Chaplin's great talents. His comic touch, his dramatic-ism, his political satire, his slapstick gifts, and his kind demeanor are fully displayed in this film. I highly recommend this film.
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Something Timely in 2007
sue-37923 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I wonder if someone will be making a similar movie 50 years from now, or will we be going through another "phase", another swing in the political pendulum. Chaplin is wonderful as usual but the end of this movie really bothered me: the little boy put through who knows what kind of emotional torture because of his parents and reduced to what looked like shame to me. Of course he was only a child, but smart enough to know what he had done-betrayed something important-even if he was just a kid spouting off earlier about politics he really didn't understand. I'm just barely old enough to remember those days and I know the fear was palpable. I was a kid growing up in a mid-west WASPish town where "liberal" was a dirty word and I have an Slavic last name. This should be seen more often-both for Charlie Chaplin's performance, and to remind us of what he went through, and that it DOES happen here.
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King Charles the one and only
bkoganbing1 August 2011
Although not a shred of footage was shot in New York and the cast was 98% British players, A King In New York which did not get released in the USA until the House Un-American Activities Committee had ceased to exist remains a stinging indictment of American culture of the McCarthy era. Charlie Chaplin being a premier victim of the era knew from whence he spoke and wrote.

The idea of an exiled monarch from Ruritanian type royal house presumably under your typical royal family being a Communist is an oxymoron on the face of it. Yet that is exactly what Charlie Chaplin is accused of in A King In New York. Under what power an American Congressional Committee could compel testimony is still not clear, but HUAC did that too when it thought necessary.

Chaplin decides to settle here, try out America before sending for his exiled Queen Irene Audley. But as funds run low, he's forced to sell his most prize possession, the good name of the monarchy in a slew of advertising schemes as launched by Dawn Addams and Sid James. Seeing the king sell all kinds of 'royal' products was pretty amusing itself.

But when he visits a 'progressive' school and hears young Michael Chaplin spouting off the virtues of Karl Marx at the drop of a hat, he's taken with the kid although exasperated at being the butt of the jokes of these unruly kids. Later on when he takes the kid in after finding him on his hotel steps and the press hears him going on his Marxist jag, the exiled king is accused of being a Communist and has to go before HUAC. Chaplin waters down his testimony to the chagrin of the committee.

Although Chaplin had abandoned his little tramp character at this point and the famous Hitler like mustache was gone, he still had some marvelous sight gags worthy of his silent classics. A King In New York, born out of Chaplin's exiled bitterness remains a really unjustly neglected piece of comedic satire and relevant truths of the time.
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Tremendous, meaningful motion picture
sean45542 May 2008
For years I've read how controversial and second-rate this film is. I finally bought the MK2 DVD, and was amazed at how funny and intelligent Chaplin's movie really is. I can understand the controversial aspect - it's not very subtle although it's entirely correct - but second rate?? I also hear how supposedly 'shabby' the movie appears, due to a tight budget and shooting schedule, but I honestly don't see any of these flaws. In fact, "A King In New York" may be my favorite Chaplin picture. The only problem I have with the entire film is the comedians scene in the club. Every single person in attendance is laughing hysterically at two quite unfunny performers. It's actually so slow and stupidly surreal it takes away from the commentary that runs throughout the movie. Oh well, a minor quibble but, still. If you're avoiding "A King In New York" for any reason, go get it. You'll be very pleased with this classic.
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Funny, more strange than ah! ah!
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU14 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Charles Chaplin is setting up his own troubles with the anti-American activities commission on the screen, and that is quite funny though particularly dramatic. That episode of US history is so strange but also tragic that it should be remembered forever for the mistake not to be ever renewed in the future, though with no guarantee that it will be so. Unluckily in this kind of business there seems to be always a repeat and another repeat and a third repeat, without any ending. Charles Chaplin turns his own mishap into a comedy, with some very traditional but always lively and kind of born again gags and tricks. But he does succeed to turn a dramatic situation into a laughable short episode, though it means a child of ten is turned into a fink who exposes other people to protect his own interest, with no guarantee of any truth in what he may say, since he is a child, and with the certainty that he will be spoiled forever by the episode. This film, no matter how well-felt it may have been, will remain a testimony of that McCarthy period, mocked in his very victims that become Macaby. But we will regret that such a great artist was obliged to come to making this film to bring an end, or at least help to bring an end, to this sorry episode. We would have liked him to have reached his acme in political films with the Dictator and never gone beyond, but unluckily life made him write and shoot another episode which is just as sorry, even if not as bloody, as the previous one.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine & University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne
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Chaplin's final swan song as Actor, Writer and Director.
Joseph P. Ulibas25 November 2006
A KIng in New York (1957) was the second to last film that Charles Chaplin completed before his retirement. Chaplin stars as a King of a deposed European country who lives out his final days in a hotel. During his stay in exile, he meets the local upper class and becomes a sort of a t.v. celebrity. But his life and views about politics change when he meets an idealistic young boy. How does his life change when he crosses paths with the youngster? Does the viewing public accept this fallen despot with open arms? Will America change his way of life? Too find out the answers to these questions and many more you'll have to watch this Charles Chaplin classic A KING IN NEW YORK.

I was surprised by how well this film was. It was a bit of a shock to see an aged Chaplin but he's still funny as ever. A lot of sight gags and witty quips and views about American society (some of them are still relevant today). I highly recommend this movie. Even if it's a bit heavy handed.

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An Overlooked comedy gem!
Matt Barry6 February 1999
A KING IN NEW YORK is an overlooked comedy gem. It isn't on the same level as THE GOLD RUSH or CITY LIGHTS, but it has many comic highlights (including the King trying to order a meal at a cafe, but unheard by the waiter due to a loud rock n' roll band.) Other highlights include the trip to the movie theatre, and the TV ad for the Wine. It has some touching moments too, such as the King helping a young boy whose parents are being questioned as Communists. This is a Chaplin masterpiece, despite its few flaws.
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Chaplin Has His Say
Scott_Mercer26 March 2011
As probably one of Chaplin's lesser efforts, this falls short of the level of sheer genius to the level of mere mortal excellence.

As proof of Americans' depressing ability to laugh at any ethnic group or nationality except for themselves, at the time, this movie got many Americans' hackles up, and by the looks of the comments here, still does for some people. However, Chaplin's tone in this film, described by some as bitterness, I would more accurately call incisiveness.

Of course this movie had to be made in Britain, and wasn't shown in the USA for about 20 years, until after the youthquake of the late 1960's and the changing of the generational guard, proving Americans are not fond of having their foibles and hypocrisies pointed out to them in a rather obvious manner.

Some of the more satirical aspects of the film, including the film trailers, TV advertising, the reality television show (Chaplin about 40 years ahead of the curve on that one) and the whirlwind feel of New York City, represent rather gentle pokes at a society in which, to remind everyone, Chaplin had worked in and made his fame and fortune in for over 40 years.

It's only when the Senator McCarthy inspired storyline takes hold, around halfway through the film, that the story turns markedly more serious. Chaplin sprinkles the film throughout with references to the US Constitution, and freedom of speech, and "American blood boiling." Clearly he is on the side of freedom versus totalitarianism, and against the witch hunt like tactics of HUAC that destroyed American careers, drove people into poverty or exile, and provably never found one person that was a real, imminent danger to American society. Looking back from this point, almost everyone agrees that HUAC and its blowback were a blot on the history of the United States and its aspirations of freedom, and rightfully so.

Although this aspect of the film is a bit heavy-handed, and the rather sad ending is somewhat disappointing but rather realistic within the context of the times, I feel that this only detracts mildly from the comedy on offer, Chaplin's amazing screen presence, and artistry as a writer, actor and director. It is enough to make me wish he had done more than three talking films in his career. Yes, that guy in his 60's up there on the screen with the gray hair certainly isn't the little tramp of 1920, but he is a character almost equally as compelling, and much more formidable.

Not mentioned by many is the fact that Chaplin even composed the score for this film, which is in itself worthy of praise. Chaplin probably could have carved out a career as a successful film composer, over and above his other gargantuan talents.

See it if you can. A King in New York is a treasure.
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Brilliant Critique of 1950s America
gavin694226 February 2013
A recently-deposed European monarch (Charles Chaplin) seeks shelter in New York City, where he becomes an accidental television celebrity and is later wrongly accused of being a Communist.

Although the main character is obviously the king, we have to give credit to the Communist child (or perhaps more properly anarchist). This was quite a performance, and although I do not know who that boy was, I hope he has gone on to do well for himself.

We also have the advertising woman, which rounds out the characters -- the political child, the commercialism of the woman. What does it all mean? I am not quite sure. But the film is such a fine critique of McCarthyism and commercialism. Indeed, does anyone think we are not inundated with pointless ads?

The Communist aspects are a bit harder to judge. At the time, he probably received great flack for this (indeed, the film was poorly received). But he was also not completely innocent -- he certainly had leftist leanings, despite his denial of such. Perhaps not strictly Communist, but most likely he was sympathetic. And why not? The king was a Communist from 1940-1950 and then resigned. This seems fair -- it was not until after World War II that America became anti-Soviet. Looking back today (50 years later), it all seems silly.
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A genius
Dimitri443 September 2012
As I see it, first, with quick comments: The technical aspects of this film were perfect. Chaplin evidently had a high IQ, and he expressed his rebuttals in a light-hearted and dignified manner. The juxtapositioning of the Queen and the TV producer may have been his way of telling his personal life critics cast the first stone if you're qualified.

Now, for a somewhat more extended commentary. Chaplin and his wife Oona may have made at the time what I see as a pandemic cult mistake that many made at the time of imagining that the Bolsheviks could have somehow meant well; but the reaction from politicians at the time was much worse. For them, an exorcist was and is needed, but such politicians were and are into an evil hopelessly too deep. Some of them even say that they've heard of Moses, Jesus Christ and Apostle Paul. Have they? Finally, Chaplin's script and delivery were superb. If this was 1957, this was an encore from the Golden Age.


Here is an addendum to this review. The purpose of congressional committee hearings is to gather facts, opinions, etc. for providing guidance for possible future legislation, and so the naming of names has nothing to do with this. In other words, the investigators for these committees always had all of these names in advance all the time; and so the committees were merely playing a trick in order to humiliate the witnesses, and to score points with the voters. This means that the judges should have always found that it was the committee chairmen who were in contempt of court.
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A different person
henryhertzhobbit20 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I watched a lot of early Charlie Chaplin films and can only say that like Red Skelton, to me they were neither funny nor what I would classify as great. For me, the ones from that era that were funny were Oliver & Hardy, or later on Abbot & Costello. I loved this film but watched without even knowing it was a Charlie Chaplin movie when I first saw it. As proof that Charlie was correct in his assessment of the American lunacies and a denunciation of McCarthyism is the fact that the movie wasn't released in the US until the 1970s and probably wasn't viewed except by only a few Americans until the 1980s. I think the reason some people don't like it is because they want the Charlie Chaplin of the old silent film era. I would say they are not even the same person. After being hounded out of the United States and being told he would not be allowed to return, how do you expect him to feel? He had to become an almost totally different person after that kind of experience. The penultimate moment of the film for me is when he is labeled as being a Royal Communist. That has to be the most absurdly funny statement I have heard for a long time. His answer in a Latin sounding phrase made it even more humorous. I rate it right up there with Abbot & Costello's "Who is on first, What is on second, I don't know is on third ..." The ensuing actions of what starts it all hinges on those moments. Is it really possible to have a Royal Communist? If you like Oliver & Hardy, Abbot & Costello, or the Marx brothers you will like this movie.
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I hate everyone who hates A King In New York
zsigomiklos13 July 2007
What's wrong with you, folks?! Why don't you like this movie? Is it because most of the IMDb users are American? Why don't you judge it reasonably, dear American IMDb users?

For those people who do not know any background story about this film:

There was an important biographical turn in Chaplin's life in the mid 50's: he actually shot A King In New York in Switzerland. He had to leave America because he was accused of having communist tendencies. I see that he had problems with Americans, but in the mid 70's he had been officially redeemed. He was not a communist, even that he supported Russia in the WWII was just because he had to position himself against Hitler. Everyone who had seen The Great Dictator should understand what I am on about. (watch again at least the last 5 minutes)

This overlooked gem is just as serious as the earlier LIMELIGHT, but it still has its funny moments. Most of the jokes landed perfectly in my case. But definitely the hostilities, divorce from his wife took away a lot from the Genius. Eventually he is just a human like us.

A King In New York. Charles Chaplin In New York. 9/10
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