To the increasing number of corrective personal histories which has been a conspicuous feature of publishing in the last decade, David Robinson’s Chaplin: His Lift and Art is an imposing addition.[1] I can’t offhand recall another biography of a performer that reconstructs the artist’s life and professional achievement in such satisfying detail. In addition to the biographical text itself, there are appendices (of over a hundred pages) including the Chaplin genealogy, a chronological list of every play and film which Chaplin directed or in which he appeared, a selective example of his film shooting schedules and ratios, a Who’s Who identifying everyone of any note mentioned in passing, three Keystone period scenarios, and a record of the FBI-versus-Chaplin activity.

My problem as a reviewer who feels that he should emphasize the...