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Chaplin Quotations


Wisdom usually grows up on us like calluses when we are old, gnarled and bent.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




Men who think deeply say little in ordinary conversations.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




I could kill laughs more quickly by overdoing something than by any other method.

From “What People Laugh At”, American Magazine, November 1918: “One of the things I have to be most careful about is not to overdo a thing, or to stress too much any particular point. I could kill laughs more quickly by overdoing something than by any other method. If I made too much of my peculiar walk, if I were too rough in turning people upside down, if I went to excess in anything at all, it would be bad for the picture.”




It is not reality that matters in a film but what the imagination can make of it.

From My Autobiography: “… I was depressed by the remark of a young critic who said that City Lights was very good, but that it verged on the sentimental, and that in my future films I should try to approximate realism. I found myself agreeing with him. Had I known what I do now, I could have told him that so-called realism is often artificial, phoney, prosaic and dull; and that it is not reality that matters in a film but what the imagination can make of it.”




No doubt you were extremely beautiful as a young girl, but your youth could never compete with your age now.

Henri Verdoux (Charles Chaplin) says this to Marie Grosnay (Isobel Elsom) as he tries to seduce her in Monsieur Verdoux (1947)




I'm an old weed. The more I'm cut down, the more I spring up again.

Calvero says this in Limelight




The world cannot be wrong if in this world there's you.

From “This is My Song”. Music and lyrics by Charles Chaplin for The Countess from Hong Kong




Despair is a narcotic. It lulls the mind into indifference.

Henri Verdoux (Chaplin) says this in Monsieur Verdoux (1947)




That which is apparent ends. That which is subtle is never-ending.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




Too much kindness and respect are given to the unseen and not enough to humanity. It seems that in our nature we loathe each other and bestow our respect and love on the abstract.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




Humor is the ability to discern in a kindly way the folly in what is considered normal, sublime behavior, and to discern the discrepancy in what appears as a truth.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




Humor is kindly. Wit is caustic.

From Chaplin’s manuscript notes




My prodigious sin was, and still is, being a non-conformist.

From “My Autobiography”: “Friends have asked how I came to engender this American antagonism. My prodigious sin was, and still is, being a non¬conformist. Although I am not a Communist I refused to fall in line by hating them. This, of course, has offended many […]
Secondly, I was opposed to the Committee on Un-American Activities — a dishonest phrase to begin with, elastic enough to wrap around the throat and strangle the voice of any American citizen whose honest opinion is a minority one.
Thirdly, I have never attempted to become an American citizen.”




One either rises to an occasion or succumbs to it.

From “My Autobiography”. On the occasion of his first performance in Karno’s The Football Match, Chaplin remembers: “At the back of the enormous stage I walked up and down, with anxiety superimposed on fear, praying to myself. There was the music! The curtain rose! On the stage was a chorus of men exercising. Eventually they exited, leaving the stage empty. That was my cue. In an emotional chaos I went on. One either rises to an occasion or succumbs to it. The moment I walked on to the stage I was relieved, everything was clear”




To work is to live - and I love to live.

June 30, 1976 to journalists. Quoted in the Chronology section of David Robinson’s “Chaplin: His Life and Art”




The heart and the mind ... what an enigma.

Calvero says this in Limelight




Let us fight for a new world.

From Chaplin’s final speech in The Great Dictator.




I hate the sight of blood, but it's in my veins.

In a scene in Limelight, Terry says to Calvero: “I thought you hated the theatre,” and Calvero replies, “I do. I also hate the sight of blood, but it’s in my veins.”




The roses you lifted to your lips ... lucky roses!

Henri Verdoux (Charles Chaplin) says this to Marie Grosnay (Isobel Elsom) as he tries to seduce her in Monsieur Verdoux (1947)




I'd sooner be called a successful crook than a destitute monarch.

King Shadov (Charles Chaplin) in A King in New York (1957)