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Stealing Chaplin

average rating is 4 out of 5


Jason Knight


Posted on:

Dec 16, 2021

Film Reviews
Stealing Chaplin
Directed by:
Paul Tanter
Written by:
Doug Phillips, Simon Phillips
Simon Phillips, Doug Phillips, Bianca Katz, Al Sapienza, Anne-Carolyne Binette, Liliana Vargas

A dark comedy crime film with a rather eerie plot that was inspired by real-life events. Two crooks decide to excavate the coffin that contains the body of actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin and hold it for ransom.


It should be mentioned that although in real life the theft of Chaplin's coffin took place in 1978 in Switzerland, this story takes place in present-day Las Vegas.


Cal (Simon Phillips) and Terry (Doug Phillips) are two English small-time criminals who are currently residing in Las Vegas. Through clumsy actions they have gotten themselves into serious debt with dangerous gangsters and come up with the idea of digging up Chaplin's body with the intention of demanding a large sum of money for its return. Their decision to do so leads to further complications as the theft reaches news headlines, a reward is offered for information and the authorities (and money-hungry people) close in on them.


This feature has quite an intriguing plot that contains interrelated storylines with characters who each have their own plans regarding the stolen coffin. Cal and Terry are brothers and their criminal lifestyle is about to be the end of them. They do not have much success in crime and just end up getting into trouble due to their silliness. They do not think things through and once they have Chaplin's body in their possession, they are unsure how to proceed and end up focusing on other things instead such as a scam involving leprosy. Other characters include a police detective named Goddard (Vargas), who gets closer and closer to the siblings, Billy (Sapienza), a homicidal mobster who is after the brothers for the money that they owe and Helen (Katz), a waitress with whom Cal is trying to have a romantic relationship.


Generally this movie is an enjoyable viewing. Cal and Terry provide the funniest parts, particularly due to the way they constantly have disagreements and tend not to acknowledge the life-threatening situations they get themsleves into and neither do they really take into account the fact that they are carrying around a coffin that has a dead person inside. There is a great deal of profanity, plenty of dark humour and adult humour and a bit of romance as well. There is also nasty violence as hoodlums harm anyone who gets in their way.


There are some rather interesting characters, the most significant of which is probably Terry who is not the sharpest tool in the shed, believes he knows more than he actually does and tends not to think before he acts or speaks while his brother appears to have more brain and tries to be more careful. Sapienza delivers a chilling performance as a cold-blooded criminal.


The film contains footage of scenes from movies in which Chaplin acted, either when the brothers visit a cinema, watch television or during the opening credits. Occasionally, a title card appears on screen that presents a quote by Chaplin, announcing a new chapter of the narrative. The cinematography by Cory Warner looks great and there is infrequent narration. There are also terrific establishing shots that show various areas of Las Vegas.


This feature will most likely appeal to viewers who enjoy dark humour and crime themes. The acting is strong, the dialogue is well written and amusing and the plot will probably maintain the audience's attention until the end.

About the Film Critic
Jason Knight
Jason Knight
Indie Feature Film
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