Had we but known . . . there's a new book by Kevin Brownlow about Charlie Chaplin. It's called The Search for Charlie Chaplin, and it was published in April by the UKA Press. The book is 222 pages in length, and is illustrated.
Scott Eyman, writing in the Palm Beach Post on August 3rd, said, "A few months ago I wrote a story about a film collector in Michigan who found a 16mm print of a 1914 Keystone comedy called The Thief Catcher, which features a previously unknown guest appearance by Charlie Chaplin. . . . As discoveries go, it was impressive, but it paled next to the discoveries made by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill beginning in 1977, when they accessed a vast trawl of Chaplin outtakes from 1916-1917, followed by that holy of holies, the Chaplin vault itself, which held sequences that he had cut from his films as well as a lot of fascinating miscellaneous footage.
All this resulted in The Unknown Chaplin, a TV series that, along with Heart of Darkness, still stands as probably the documentary about the filmmaking process. The Search for Charlie Chaplin (UKA Press) is Brownlow’s story of the process of finding the films and piecing the show together, and it palpably communicates the difficulties as well as the primal enthusiasm that it takes to persevere in a necessarily incremental project such as The Unknown Chaplin."
Brownlow's description of the book, via the publisher, adds to the story and reads in part: "It was a treasure hunt involving innocence and guile, accident and coincidence. A treasure hunt which took us to Switzerland, France and the United States. The treasure, when it was uncovered, revealed information as precious as the film itself. From the material, we compiled a television series called Unknown Chaplin, three hour-long documentaries produced for Thames Television. Apart from the experience of making the series, we learned so much about Chaplin we could not squeeze into the commentary we decided to preserve it in the form of a book."
More about this new book can be found on the publisher's page here. The UKA Press is an English-based publisher, and The Search for Charlie Chaplin is primarily available in England. However, copies can also be ordered over the internet via Amazon and through independent bookshops via Indiebound. [ The UKA Press has also issued two other similar "making of" books by Brownlow, How It Happened Here and Winstanley: Warts and All. ]
Back when The Unknown Chaplin was fist released and played on PBS (imagine that), Leonard Maltin discussed it on Entertainment Tonight. Watch this YouTube clip for a look back....