lang : en | fr

Chaplin Quotations


Beauty is the object or the consciousness which amplifies the feeling of universality in man.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




In the realm of the unknown there is an infinite power for good.

From “My Autobiography”: “My faith is in the unknown, in all that we do not understand by reason; I believe that what is beyond our comprehension is a simple fact in other dimensions, and that in the realm of the unknown there is an infinite power for good.”




“As I see it, the purpose of story telling is to express the beauty of life, condensing its high spots, for purposes of entertainment. For after all, it is only beauty we seek in life, whether it be through laughter or tears. And beauty lies in everything, both good and evil, though only the discriminating, such as the artist and the poet, finds it in both.

Quoted in “Chaplin Makes Plea For Sincerity,” Exhibitor’s Trade Review, October 1923




You can do anything if you don't have a vulgar mind.

Chaplin told Martha Raye during the shooting of Monsieur Verdoux, “You can do anything if you don’t have a vulgar mind. Have a little pixyishness. Let them have fun, it won’t be vulgar. Some can swear, others can’t. It’s like another gift, a talent. It’s there or it isn’t. You have to be what you are naturally.” (Quoted in Charles Chaplin Jr.’s “My Father, Charlie Chaplin”




Doing something with the public in mind is doing something without your own mind.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




How awful the thought of oneness—the yoga idea. One merging into all and all merging into one. Just think of merging into Herbert Hoover.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




Education is the path to revelation. Teach the alphabet and you sow the seeds of rebellion. The free thinker travels light along the road to truth.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly!

The ending of The Great Dictator: “Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up Hannah! The clouds are lifting, the sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world, a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed and brutality. Look up Hannah. The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow, into the light of hope, into the future. The glorious future that belongs to you, to me, and to all of us! Look up Hannah, look up!”




A man is what a woman makes him and a woman makes herself.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




I am what I am: an individual, unique and different.

In “A Writer’s Notebook”, Somerset Maugham attributes Chaplin’s profound melancholy and loneliness to his impoverished days back in London and comments that Chaplin is nostalgic to those days: “Charlie Chaplin… his fun is simple and sweet and spontaneous. And yet all the time you have a feeling that at the back of all is a profound melancholy. He is a creature of moods and it does not require his facetious assertion ‘Gee, I had such a fit of the blues last night I didn’t hardly know what to do with myself’ to warn you that his humour is lined with sadness. He does not give you the impression of a happy man. I have a notion that he suffers from a nostalgia of the slums. The celebrity he enjoys, his wealth, imprison him in a way of life in which he finds only constraint. I think he looks back to the freedom of his struggling youth, with its poverty and bitter privation, with a longing which knows it can never be satisfied. To him the streets of southern London are the scene of frolic, gaiety and extravagant adventure…I can imagine him going into his own house and wondering what on earth he is doing in this strange man’s dwelling. I suspect that the only home he can ever look upon as such is a second-floor back in the Kennington Road. One night I walked with him in Los Angeles and presently our steps took us to the poorest quarter of the city. There were sordid tenement houses and the shabby gaudy shops in which are sold the various goods that the poor buy from day to day. His face lit up and a buoyant tone came into his voice as he exclaimed, ‘Say, this is the real life, isn’t it? All the rest is just sham.’” In “My Autobiography”, Chaplin is annoyed by Maugham’s “attitude of wanting to make poverty attractive” and retorts that he does not know any poor man who has nostalgia for poverty. He concludes: “In spite of Maugham’s assumptions, like everyone else I am what I am: an individual, unique and different, with a lineal history of ancestral promptings and urgings; a history of dreams, desires, and of special experiences, all of which I am the sum total.”




Life could be wonderful if people would leave you alone.

Hannah (Paulette Goddard) says this to the Barber (Charles Chaplin) in The Great Dictator (1940)




Time heals, and experience teaches that the secret of happiness is in service to others.

Screen title in A Woman of Paris (1923)




Most all our worldly troubles are only drifting bubbles. Most all our cares and sorrows are gone with our tomorrows.

From “Sing a Song”. Music and Lyrics by Charles Chaplin, Abe Lyman and Gus Arnheim: “Most all our worldly troubles are only drifting bubbles. Most all our cares and sorrows are gone with our tomorrows. So don’t you let them fret you or some day they will get you. When skies are grey, stop work and play, and laugh your cares away…”




This is a ruthless world and one must be ruthless to cope with it.

From a scene in Monsieur Verdoux




I don't want to create a revolution - I just want to create a few more films.

In response to journalists for comments on United States Attorney-General’s announcement to revoke his re-entry visa, September 23, 1952. Quoted in The Guardian: “I am not a political man and I have no political convictions. I am an individual and a believer in liberty. That is all the politics I have. On the other hand I am not a super-patriot. Super -patriotism leads to Hitlerism - and we’ve had our lesson there. I don’t want to create a revolution - I just want to create a few more films.”




Action is more generally understood than words.

From “Pantomime and Comedy” by Charlie Chaplin, The New York Times, Jan. 25, 1931: “Action is more generally understood than words. The lift of an eyebrow, however faint, may convey more than a hundred words. Like the Chinese symbolism, it will mean different things, according to its scenic connotation… Pantomime, I have always believed, and still believe, is the prime qualification of a successful screen player. A truly capable actor must possess a thorough grounding in pantomime.”




Deep down we all have a sense of our own inadequacy about coping with life. It is something that all of us hide from the world yet it feeds the soul and endows our personality with charm.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




If only the old and young could be the same age.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes in the archives




Mother illuminated to me the kindliest light this world has ever known, which has endowed literature and the theatre with their greatest and richest themes: love, pity and humanity.

From “My Autobiography”, Charlie Chaplin remembering his mother, Hannah Chaplin: “I remember an evening in our one room in the basement at Oakley Street. I lay in bed recovering from a fever. Sydney had gone out to night school and Mother and I were alone. It was late afternoon, and she sat with her back to the window reading, acting and explaining in her inimitable way the New Testament and Christ’s love and pity for the poor and for little children. Perhaps her emotion was due to my illness, but she gave the most luminous and appealing interpretation of Christ that I have ever heard or seen. […] Mother had so carried me away that I wanted to die that very night and meet Jesus. But Mother was not so enthusiastic. ‘Jesus wants you to live first and fulfil your destiny here,’ she said. In that dark room in the basement at Oakley Street, Mother illuminated to me the kindliest light this world has ever known, which has endowed literature and the theatre with their greatest and richest themes: love, pity and humanity.”




I am successful because I work hard and pay attention to detail. I think of my work constantly. I can’t even read a book or have a conversation without trying to find a good comic effect in the most serious part of it.

From “Charlie Chaplin tells Chronicle Correspondent He Never Wanted to be a Famous Funnyman” by Elizabeth Peltret, Paterson Chronicle, February 4, 1917