Wednesday 3rd July 2024 – Colin Shindler: Charlie Chaplin: Tortured Genius

Wednesday 3rd July 2024

Charlie Chaplin: Tortured Genius

Speaker: Colin Shindler

Charlie Chaplin was a man of contradictions – a playboy and a workaholic, an innovative artist and the last to embrace talking pictures. Chaplin revolutionised the language of cinema and in his guise as The Little Tramp he became the most universally recognised performer of all time. He had a tortured private life, but he was adept at using elements of that life in his films. He was one of the few Hollywood producers to make an overt political stand in his films Modern Times (1936) and The Great Dictator (1940). His early films, particularly The Kid (1921) drew on the experiences of immigrants and the urban poor and on memories of his own deprived childhood in the slums of London.


Colin Shindler has been lecturing on American and British social and cultural history for over 20 years. He was awarded his PhD at Cambridge University and subsequently lectured on film for their History Faculty between 1998 and 2019, exploring its relationship to modern British and American social and cultural history.  Between 1975 and 1999 he pursued a wide-ranging career as a writer and producer in television, radio and film. He won a BAFTA award for his production of A Little Princess. His production of Young Charlie Chaplin was nominated for a US Prime Time Emmy. He wrote the screenplay for the feature film Buster and was the producer of various television dramas such as Lovejoy and Wish Me Luck. He has written three novels as well as numerous television scripts and radio plays: his most recent radio play Leni Goes to Hollywood, about the German film director Leni Riefenstahl, was broadcast on Radio 4 in August 2021. Other radio plays for R4 included How To Be An Internee (about P.G. Wodehouse) and one on Private Eye & The Profumo Affair (Rumours). He is the author of Barbed Wire and Cucumber Sandwiches: The Controversial South Africa Cricket Tour of 1970 which was short listed for the MCC/Wisden Cricket Book of the Year in 2021. He is best known for his childhood memoir Manchester United Ruined My Life which was short listed for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. His other publications include Hollywood Goes To War: Films & American 1952 Society 1939-and Hollywood in Crisis: Films & American Society 1929-1939.  I’m Sure I speak for Thousands of Others (2017) was a history of unpublished letters written to the BBC and his non-fiction novel Garbo & Gilbert in Love was an imaginative reconstruction of the infamous relationship of the two MGM stars. He is currently working on the television adaptation of his novel Hollywood Nazis. His next book is titled Granada Land: Coronation Street and the Emergence of the North 1960-1970. 

This lecture will follow the Annual General Meeting which will begin at 10:30am.