CHAPLIN & JOHNNY HUTCH: The 'English' connection.....
As I edge closer to the campaign's end, I wanted to be certain that all of you, who have been so supportive, understand why I am so passionate about this project and why the need to complete my research in England. The answer was obvious........... CHAPLIN.
Chaplin has played a pivotal role throughout my films' development from day one, through dance, physical comedy, filmmaking and animation. There is not one central figure that has inspired more than CHARLES CHAPLIN. Every choreographer, every artist, every dancer, every actor and every clown analyzed and emulated him. And when I began my journey learning about 'eccentric dance', over 25 years ago, I honestly knew very little than the films, images that we all have seen. It was through this Documentary, that I have come to truly understand his talent, and the gift he has bestowed upon so many. This film has been shaped by talking to those masters themselves, who have studied his approach and technique. One of the most emotional moments for me during my interviews, was with MARCEL MARCEAU, as he softly cried, re-telling his first encounter with Chaplin at an airport in Zurich....
JOE GRANT, CHUCK JONES, FRANK & OLLIE all spoke reverently of how Chaplin profoundly influenced their animation. MICHAEL KIDD, DICK VAN DYKE, SHIRLEY MACLAINE, FREDERICK FRANKLIN, RAY BOLGER & JIMMY CAGNEY, all understood the 'body movement art' that Chaplin resonated. OTTO MESSMER and ROLAND PETIT tried to bring him back to life in animation and the Ballet.
But as I listened, it made me want to learn more....WHO impacted Chaplin? Who were HIS inspirations? And who is carrying on that tradition today? It was not until I interviewed the 5 English Eccentric Dancers, especially JOHNNY HUTCH, that I had to get back there and dig a little deeper.
JOHNNY HUTCH (1913-2006) Spending 2 and a half hrs. with the 85 yr. old diminutive fireball, was a revelation. HUTCH, one of the great British acrobats of the 20th century, was one of the most beloved circus and television personalities. His remarkable career spanned 70 years, from a tumbling headliner across the globe to the London Coliseum, to stunt coordinator at the ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATER to the little bald guy on the BENNY HILL Show.
HUTCH was one of those rare breed of performers who saw everyone, experienced everything, and remembered it all. So when RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH mentioned that no one remained who knew Chaplin's routines, HUTCH spoke up "I DO!", Attenborough was stunned. "I used to watch him as a kid!", he said. He was hired on the spot to teach ROBERT DOWNEY ,JR. the Chaplin's routines and mannerisms. And I have ALL the outtakes of the two working together!!!
Here is a clip of Downey's 'drunk fall out of the box' bit which Hutch taught him!
And the clip of 'The Making of' is worth watching, as it is all of Hutch's work.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw4XMGyLiFQ
It was Johnny Hutch who opened my eyes to the history of eccentric as 'visual comedy' and how old this tradition was. Hutch made me realize that it's all about 'character', and it was because of him, that I began to see the thread. He made me aware of Chaplin's work with the KARNO TROUPE in England and FRED KITCHEN, whom both Chaplin & Stan Laurel emulated. He spoke of the 'moonwalk's' beginnings at the turn-of-the-century and how eccentric was a pre-cursor to the break dance of today.
I am honored to have spent the time I did with him. It is my passion to track the eccentric's history and recognize these important artists for the next generation.
There are only 6 days remaining and I may or may not reach my goal, but I only hope I have made clearer why I must reach across the pond! Please do not hesitate to ask any questions.....
Thank you all....Most Sincerely~ Betsy
(On the acrobat pic....HUTCH is top center. Benny Hill pic, he is far left.)