Using in part rare out-take footage, the film-making methods and techniques of Charles Chaplin are explored.

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1986   1983  
Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Series cast summary:
 Narrator / ... 3 episodes, 1983
Hans-Joachim Kulenkampff ...
 Narrator (German Version) 3 episodes, 1983


A documentary from silent film historians Kevin Brownlow and David Gill. Featuring never before seen out-takes from Chaplin's films, and other rare footage, Unknown Chaplin gives a valuable insight into the creation of Chaplin's films. Also included are interviews with people who knew and worked with Chaplin. The documentary is in three parts: My Happiest Years; Hidden Treasures; and The Great Director. Accompanied by excellent music by Carl Davis, some adapted from Chaplin's own music. Written by Sean Blake <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

14 July 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der unbekannte Chaplin  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

Those actors not marked uncredited were credited by the narrator or by subtitles. See more »


References Limelight (1952) See more »


Title Theme
from The Kid (1921)
Written by Charles Chaplin
See more »

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User Reviews

13 March 2008 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Unknown Chaplin (1983)

**** (out of 4)

Unknown Chaplin: My Happiest Years

Incredibly interesting documentary from Kevin Brownlow uses outtakes, behind the scenes footage and other goodies to tell the story of Charles Chaplin during his Mutual years of 1914-1917. Since most silent "extras" are gone it's rather amazing they were able to find all of this stuff, which really puts a face on the rumors surrounding Chaplin's work methods. It is known he was a genius but no one ever saw how that genius came to be. Some said he was sadistic and others said he was a terror to work for. With these outtakes we see why people would feel this way as Chaplin takes little scenes and runs off fifty to one hundred takes. But we also see the genius this creates especially during outtakes of The Immigrant where the same scene is shot over and over using different actors, clothing and other things to pull the scene off. This was part one of a three part series.

Unknown Chaplin: The Great Director

Part two of Kevin Brownlow's documentary about Charles Chaplin, this one taking a look at the making of The Kid, The Gold Rush and City Lights. Once again you get a perfect idea of who Chaplin was and how he was able to create the masterpieces that he did. The alternate ending and footage from City Lights is certainly the highlight here.

Unknown Chaplin: Hidden Treasures

Final segment in Brownlow's brilliant documentary is a real treat for fans as it contains to deleted scenes from The Circus, both of which are among the best stuff Chaplin has done. Also included is the deleted opening sequence to Modern Times, which was also quite nicely done. Home movies and other goodies are scattered throughout this part as well. Overall this is certainly a brilliant documentary and highly rated to those who enjoy Chaplin's work.

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