Chaplin and Agee
Chaplin and Agee
The Untold Story of the Tramp, the Writer, and the Lost Screenplay
Palgrave MacMillan Trade, Hardcover, 9781403968661, 288pp.
Publication Date: May 9, 2005
"Chaplin and Agee" charts the friendship between James Agee, author of "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" and Pulitzer Prize-winning "A Death in the Family" and screenwriter for American classics including " The African Queen," and Charlie Chaplin, who starred in a staggering number of films from 1914 to 1967. This friendship emerged in the midst of the tumult of the 1940s and 1950s, with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, McCarthyism and blacklisting. In print here for the first time is Agee's first screenplay, "The Tramp's New World, " lost until recently. The striking screenplay--a comedy "so dark it was without precedent"--was written for Chaplin's tramp character and set in post-apocalyptic New York. "Chaplin and Agee" also features many previously unpublished letters and photographs. As the story moves from Hollywood to Greenwich Village, these two figures come to life, revealing the untold story of the great bond between two influential twentieth-century artists.
Chaplin and Agee was recently declared a finalist for the 2005 Theatre Librarian Association Award honoring the most outstanding book in recorded or broadcast performance, including film, television or radio. "John Wranovics has written an amazing book! It is certainly by far the best biographical work about James Agee that has yet been done. It is highly readable and full of fascinating, little-known detail...dug deeply and synthesized beautifully. Most importantly, Chaplin and Agee not only brings to light a deeply significant episode in our nation's literary, cinematic and political history, it gives us a brand-new, rough-hewn, dazzling masterpiece by James Agee to contemplate and enjoy."--Ross Spears, Director of Agee and To Render a Life: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and the Documentary Vision
"Here is high art and high drama given the flesh of knowing, skillful story-telling: two wonderfully talented individuals come together for today's readers as they once did in life-and the result is a brilliantly telling account of an era's breakthrough achievements of mind and heart."--Robert Coles, author of Pulitzer prize-winning series Children of Crisis
"Wranovics weaves personal, historical, and cultural threads into a true page-turner as he outlines Agee's efforts to become Chaplin's close friend and overcome his own psychological demons enough to craft what may be his most ambitious and deeply felt project. The screenplay itself is a riveting document of progressive 20th-century thought."--David Sterritt, Film Critic, The Christian Science Monitor
"Much more than a footnote, Chaplin and Agee is a real addition to film culture (and the culture of the Cold War), complete with the treatment for an unmade movie so vivid that it practically sears the mind's eye."--J. Hoberman, film critic, Village Voice
"The untold story of a collaborative medium's least likely collaboration: James Agee, the Ivy League poet who lived like a mountain man, and Charles Chaplin, the slum kid who became a sophisticated artist. In bringing these men's friendship to life, though, author John Wranovics revives something more -- a whole lost age, full of emigre intellectuals, hard-drinking Greenwich Village authors and a number of quite surprising villains (you may never think of Ed Sullivan in quite the same way again)."--Stephen Whitty, Senior Film Critic, Star-Ledger and Newhouse Newspapers