- Wars, conflict, it's all business. "One murder makes a villain. Millions a hero". Numbers sanctify.
- I am for people. I can't help it.
- As quoted in The Observer [London] (28 September, 1952)
- I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the make-up made me feel the person he was. I began to know him, and by the time I walked onto the stage he was fully born.
- My Autobiography (1964)
- All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman and a pretty girl.
- My Autobiography (1964)
- Friends have asked how I came to engender this American antagonism. My prodigious sin was, and still is, being a non-conformist. Although I am not a Communist I refused to fall in line by hating them.
Secondly, I was opposed to the Committee on Un-American Activities — a dishonest phrase to begin with, elastic enough to wrap around the throat and strangle the voice of any American citizen whose honest opinion is a minority of one.
- My Autobiography (1964)
- I am what I am: an individual, unique and different, with a lineal history of an ancestral promptings and urgings, a history of dreams, desires, and of special experiences, of all of which I am the sum total.
- My Autobiography (p. 271 Simon and Schuster 1964 edition)
- Life is a beautiful, magnificent thing, even to a jellyfish. ... The trouble is you won't fight. You've given up. But there's something just as inevitable as death. And that's life. Think of the power of the universe — turning the Earth, growing the trees. That's the same power within you — if you'll only have the courage and the will to use it.
- Calvero's answer to Terry's question: "What is there to fight for?" in Limelight (1952)
- You'll never find rainbows if you’re looking down.
- Swing High Little Girl (opening song sung by Charlie Chaplin for The Circus.)
- I hope we shall abolish war and settle all differences at the conference table... I hope we shall abolish all hydrogen and atom bombs before they abolish us first.
- In response to journalist for his views on the future of mankind at his 70th birthday, 1959-04-16
- I am not a political man and I have no political convictions. I am an individual and a believer in liberty. That is all the politics I have. On the other hand I am not a super-patriot. Super-patriotism leads to Hitlerism — and we've had our lesson there. I don't want to create a revolution — I just want to create a few more films.
- In response to journalist for comments on United States Attorney-General's announcement to revoke his re-entry visa, 1952-09-23, Cherbourg, England (quoted from "Mr. Chaplin's Defense", Guardian)
- By simple common sense I don't believe in God, in none.
- As quoted in Manual of a Perfect Atheist (1989) by Eduardo Del Rio Garcia
The Great Dictator (1940)
- In which Chaplin plays the dual roles of "Adenoid Hynkel", the dictator of Tomania, and "A Jewish Barber"
- This is a story of a period between two World Wars — an interim in which insanity cut loose. Liberty took a nose dive, and humanity was kicked around somewhat.
- Opening placard
- Hynkel, the dictator, ruled the nation with an iron fist. Under the new emblem of the double cross, liberty was banished, free speech was suppressed and only the voice of Hynkel was heard.
[Hynkel addressing the crowds, referring to his colleagues: clearly modelled upon Göring and Goebbels]
Hynkel: Herring shouldntne smelten like ze Garbitsche, und Garbitsche shouldntne smelten like ze Herring. Herring und Garbitsche... [He clasps his hands together]
Translator: His excellency has just referred to the struggles of his early days shared by his two friends.
- Schultz: You must speak.
Jewish barber: I can't.
Schultz: It's our only hope.
- I'm sorry, but I don't want to be an emperor. That's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone, if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other's happiness -- not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another.
In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.
Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security.
The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men (cries out for universal brotherhood) for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world -- millions of despairing men, women and little children -- victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say -- do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed -- the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people.
Soldiers! Don't give yourselves to brutes -- men who despise you -- enslave you -- who regiment your lives -- tell you what to do -- what to think and what to feel! Who drill you -- diet you -- treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men -- machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your heart.
Don't hate! Only the unloved hate -- the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the 17th Chapter of St. Luke it is written: "the Kingdom of God is within man" -- not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power -- the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.
Then, in the name of democracy, let us use that power! Let us all unite! Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie! They do not fulfill their promise; they never will. Dictators free themselves, but they enslave the people! Now, let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness.
Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!
Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up, Hannah. The clouds are lifting. The sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world, a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed and brutality.
Look up, Hannah. The soul of man has been given wings, and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow -- into the light of hope, into the future, the glorious future that belongs to you, to me and to all of us. Look up, Hannah. Look up.
- Closing speech of the Jewish barber, after being mistaken for Hynkel. Full text, video and audio online at American Rhetoric
- A day without laughter is a day wasted.
- Variant: The most wasted day of all is that in which we have not laughed.
- Similar statements have also been attributed to others, including E. E. Cummings
- Actors search for rejection. If they don't get it they reject themselves.
- All my pictures are built around the idea of getting in trouble and so giving me the chance to be desperately serious in my attempt to appear as a normal little gentleman.
- Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of oneself.
- Variant: Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.
- I am applauded, because everybody understands me; you are applauded, because nobody understands you.
- addressed to Albert Einstein
- I consider myself a citizen of the world!
- On why he had never become a U.S. citizen.
- I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood. If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose.
- I don't believe that the public knows what it wants; this is the conclusion that I have drawn from my career.
- I have no further use for America. I wouldn't go back there if Jesus Christ was President.
- After difficulties in being re-admitted to the United States, based on suspicions of communist sympathies.
- I remain just one thing, and one thing only — and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plane than any politician.
- I thought I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane and a derby hat. everything a contradiction: the pants baggy, the coat tight, the hat small and the shoes large.
- I went into the business for the money, and the art grew out of it. If people are disillusioned by that remark, I can't help it. It's the truth.
- In the end, everything is a gag.
- Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.
- Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.
- Man as an individual is a genius. But men in the mass form the headless monster, a great, brutish idiot that goes where prodded.
- Movies are a fad. Audiences really want to see live actors on a stage.
- No matter how desperate the predicament is, I am always very much in earnest about clutching my cane, straightening my derby hat and fixing my tie, even though I have just landed on my head.
- Nothing is permanent in this wicked world — not even our troubles.
- Talkies are spoiling the oldest art in the world — the art of pantomime. They are ruining the great beauty of silence. They are defeating the meaning of the screen. (1929)
- The basic essential of a great actor is that he loves himself in acting.
- The saddest thing I can imagine is to get used to luxury.
- There are more valid facts and details in works of art than there are in history books.
- You have to believe in yourself, that's the secret. Even when I was in the orphanage, when I was roaming the street trying to find enough to eat, even then I thought of myself as the greatest actor in the world.
- Despair is a narcotic. It lulls the mind into indifference.
- I am known in parts of the world by people who have never heard of Jesus Christ.
- The inmates have taken over the asylum!
- Reported by many sites to have been said by Chaplin upon signing the papers to create the United Artists studio (1919), this is believed to actually be derived from a remark about the same event attributed to Richard Rowland, the head of Metro Pictures: "The lunatics have taken charge of the asylum"; variant derivations or reports of this statement also include "The lunatics have taken over the asylum", and the attribution to Rowland is reported to have occurred at least as early as 1926, in the work A Million and One Nights by Terry Ramsaye, and as recently as in Variety (2005-10-16).
- In Charlie Chaplin: Comic Genius, David Robinson also confirms that a disgruntled film distributor said "The lunatics are taking over the asylum." (p. 57–58)
Quotes about Chaplin
- We felt that the public, and especially the children, like animals that are cute and little. I think we are rather indebted to Charlie Chaplin for the idea. We wanted something appealing, and we thought of a tiny bit of a mouse that would have something of the wistfulness of Chaplin — a little fellow trying to do the best he could.
- Walt Disney, who said that Mickey Mouse was inspired by Chaplin.