Charlie Chaplin vs. America: When Art, Sex, and Politics Collided
The remarkable, must-read story of Charlie Chaplin’s years of exile from the United States during the postwar Red Scare, and how it ruined his film career, from bestselling biographer Scott Eyman.
Bestselling Hollywood biographer and film historian Scott Eyman tells the story of Charlie Chaplin’s fall from grace. In the aftermath of World War Two, Chaplin was criticized for being politically liberal and internationalist in outlook. He had never become a US citizen, something that would be held against him as xenophobia set in when the postwar Red Scare took hold.
Politics aside, Chaplin had another problem: his sexual interest in young women. He had been married three times and had had numerous affairs. In the 1940s, he was the subject of a paternity suit, which he lost, despite blood tests that proved he was not the father. His sexuality became a convenient way for those who opposed his politics to condemn him. Refused permission to return to the US from a trip abroad, he settled in Switzerland, and made his last two films in London
In Charlie Chaplin vs. America, bestselling author Scott Eyman explores the life and times of the movie genius who brought us such masterpieces as City Lights and Modern Times. This is a perceptive, insightful portrait of Chaplin and of an America consumed by political turmoil.
Praise for Charlie Chaplin vs. America: When Art, Sex, and Politics Collided
""Fun to read. . . . Eyman is completely sympathetic to Chaplin, and he makes the case that we should be, too."
— Louis Menand
"one of the finest surveys of the man and the artist ever written. . . . A gem of a book."
— Leonard Maltin
"Seventy years later, Chaplin’s exile seems even more shocking than when it occurred. . . . In Charlie Chaplin vs. America the film historian Scott Eyman. . . . Makes clear how much the government’s crusade cost us all."
— Jeremy McCarter
"A brilliant must-read about the epic and turbulent life and times of a cinematic titan."
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Riveting. . . . Eyman gives the history a sense of urgency by highlighting the danger that government interference poses to artistic speech. . . . Readers will be rapt.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Eyman brings his fine writing and rigorous research to the later years of Charlie Chaplin’s remarkable career. . . . An essential addition to every film history collection."
"Distinguished research, featuring the over 1,900-page FBI report, media accounts, and interviews with family members, coworkers, and historians, propels this excellent biography that captures Chaplin, both the person and his work."
— Library Journal (starred review)
"Charlie Chaplin was an arrogant, combative, narcissistic, over-sexed and unreliable human being; he was also arguably the most brilliant cinematic genius of the 20th century. Scott Eyman captures his greatness and his flaws, and deftly traces the campaign of the FBI and its right-wing allies to destroy him, in a book that resonates with relevance for our own troubled era."
— Glenn Frankel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Shooting Midnight Cowboy
"Once upon a time, no one in America was more beloved than comedian and filmmaker Charles Chaplin. Puritanism joined with other reactionary forces to banish him abroad and destroy his brilliant career. Scott Eyman's powerful book reclaims Chaplin's greatness and deftly autopsies this shameful chapter in our film history, which has echoes in the 'cancel culture' of modern times."
— Patrick McGilligan, author of Woody Allen: A Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham
"A refreshing, almost startling, new look at the great Chaplin. Scott Eyman has sifted all the evidence to be had, curated the most telling points, and presented them in the most insightful and readable manner possible. If you want to know Charles Chaplin in absolutely all his shades and variations, this is the book you need to read."
— James Curtis, author of Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker's Life