It is one of the most famous moments in cinematic history: the instant when Charlie Chaplin, playing a sadsack hobo, becomes The Tramp. Walking down a country road, heartbroken, Chaplin picks up his legs and spirits, waddling into the future.
Chaplin actually debuted the comic hobo one hundred years ago in 1914, as WNYC noted. But it’s in the 1915 movie The Tramp that he completed his transformation. Within the year, he was nationally famous.
Working on a project for the Oakland Museum of California, I found out that Chaplin had filmed this moment not in Los Angeles, but outside the still-tiny town of Niles, California, which is technically part of Fremont.
Once again, the British spy agency MI5 has declassified a whole pile of its once-secret papers, giving us a window into the world of covert analysis and operations. And, once again, there’s at least one resounding conclusion to be drawn: people come up with a lot of idiotic stuff behind closed doors.
In the 1950s, for example, American authorities contacted MI5, according to the papers, terribly concerned that Charlie Chaplin was actually a Russian Jew named Israel Thornstein. At the American request, MI5 looked into the matter, admitting finally that the actor’s origins were unclear. Though, as the then-head of MIF’s counter subversion branch wrote, according to The Telegraph, “I scarcely think that this is of any security significance.”
Or how about the files that reveal details of Nazi plans to flood Europe with fake British currency? In the period from 1940 to 1944, was this really the best use of resources? The fakes were so good that a different department of the German secret service itself was taken in, apparently either unaware of the plan or unable to identify the forgeries, buying the fake notes in order to pay their agents in England.
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia]