A King in New York
- For the 1990 film, see King of New York
|A King in New York|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Charlie Chaplin|
|Produced by||Charlie Chaplin|
|Written by||Charlie Chaplin|
|Music by||Charlie Chaplin|
|Release dates||September 12, 1957|
|Running time||110 minutes|
A King in New York is a 1957 British comedy film directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin in his last leading role, which presents a satirical view of certain aspects of United States politics and society. The film was produced in Europe after Chaplin's exile from the US in 1952. It did not open in the United States until 1973.
"One of the minor annoyances in modern life is a revolution." Due to a revolution in his country, King Igor Shahdov (Charlie Chaplin) comes to New York City with almost no money, his securities having been stolen by his own Prime Minister. He tries to contact the Atomic Energy Commission with his ideas for using atomic power to create a utopia.
At a dinner party, some of which is televised live (unbeknownst to him), he reveals he's had some experience in the theater. He's approached to do TV commercials but doesn't like the idea. Later, he does make a few commercials in order to get some money.
Invited to speak at a progressive school, he meets Rupert Macabee (Michael Chaplin), editor of the school paper, a ten-year-old historian who gives him a stern anarchist lecture. Although Rupert himself says he distrusts all forms of government, his parents are communists. Shahdov is subsequently suspected as a communist himself and has to face one of Joseph McCarthy's hearings. He is cleared of all charges and decides to join his estranged queen in Paris for a reconciliation. But Rupert's parents are jailed, and authorities force the child to reveal the names of his parents' friends.
Grieving and guilt-ridden, he is presented to King Shahdov as a "patriot". Shahdov reassures him that the anti-communist scare is a lot of nonsense, and invites him to come to Europe with his parents for a visit. In a cataclysmic scene, Shahdov accidentally directs a strong stream of water from a fire hose at the members of "House Committee on Un-American Activities" HUAC, who scatter in panic - a bit of wish fulfilment, considering Chaplin's own bitter experience with that body.
In addition to its condemnation of HUAC's methods, the film takes witty potshots at American commercialism, popular music and film. A dinner party scene includes a number of satirical portrayals of actors and public figures of the period, including Sophie Tucker; and the King attends a film preview for Man or Woman? (Glen or Glenda).
The film did well in Europe, but its lack of US distribution severely hampered its commercial impact. Even today, fans and critics are sharply divided over the film's merits. The film received a "fresh" rating of 80% on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 10 reviews.
Charlie Chaplin ... King Shahdov
Maxine Audley ... Queen Irene
Jerry Desmonde ... Prime Minister Voudel
Oliver Johnston ... Ambassador Jaume
Dawn Addams ... Ann Kay - TV Specialist
Sid James ... Johnson - TV Advertiser (billed as Sidney James)
Joan Ingram ... Mona Cromwell - Hostess
Michael Chaplin ... Rupert Macabee
John McLaren ... Macabee Senior
Phil Brown ... Headmaster
Harry Green ... Lawyer
Robert Arden... Liftboy
Alan Gifford... School Superintendent
Robert Cawdron... U.S. Marshal
George Woodbridge ... Member of Atomic Commission