Edna Purviance

Charlie Chaplin Festival in London

London Journey
with Dominique Dugros, Garen Ewing and Peter Jewell

Charlie Chaplin Festival in London, England - November 2003
Linda Wada

Copyright December 2003-2016 - ednapurviance.org

After the memorable visit at British Film Library to see the Edna Purviance Collection, day two of my London journey started out with a trip to Central London to visit my favorite bookstores featuring vintage cinema books. I also wanted to spend sometime just seeing the city and getting more familiar with the underground and bus system.

I started with the underground on this day and traveled to Russell Square, close to where The British Museum is located. The British Museum is a must stop for any visitor to London. For a donation, the museum offers a wide collection of priceless treasures.

Russell Square London England
Russell Square few blocks from The British Museum - Nov. 2003

But fair warning, some of these museums can be so large with some having miles of exhibits. It is best to visit a section you are most interested in and continue onto the next museum, especially if you are on a short stay.

And unlike in America, (where it is getting harder to find anything for free), there are several top rate museums with FREE admission in London.

They do ask for a donation upon entering, and I strongly suggest that you do donate!

It helps keep the museum free for all to visit! (Just be aware there are a few special exhibits in all these museums that require a separate admission.)

London is full of paid admission attractions too, like The Tower of London, which is a highly visited stop on any London tour, but there are plenty of low cost places to visit. And the Underground and buses make it easy to get to many of the locations you wish to visit.
Central London is actually quite a compact place to explore on foot. There are no hills, like in San Francisco, but watch the traffic carefully and don’t always follow the locals. Watch the traffic light instead and always look to the right when crossing any street! In London and the UK, traffic travels in the opposite direction we are used to in the States.

River Thames in Central London
May 2001 - The Thames River in London

Traveling in November has the advantage of missing the summer tourist crowds, and I do believe the shop owners seemed a bit more at ease knowing there are more locals in the shops than tourists.

I met very few tourists on this trip, especially from America, because the exchange rate was quite poor for my trip.

If you are planning to travel to the UK from America, think about how much money you want to spend, then double that amount. That will get you close to what it will actually cost you to travel in the UK.

If doing a lot of train travel purchase a BritRail pass before leaving America or departing from any country outside of Britain. While not valid for the Underground, the BritRail Pass will get you to all parts of United Kingdom. Just purchase the pass that best fits your travel plans. They come in different packages to fit any travel need in Britain and will save you money and time! The pass is a must for any extended train travel in Britain.

As for money, it is usually best to get your money exchanged at the airport upon arriving, but on this trip I found my best exchange rate at the exchange shops scattered throughout London. Because of the poor exchange rate caused by the weak dollar they were running specials to get people in their shops.

The banks in Britain can be good option too, with your ATM card usually giving you the best rate. In general it is best to get your money in Britain, after arriving. In America, many places charge a higher rate and high commission fees. And be aware of the 17% Value Added Tax, known as VAT. If you spend a lot of money, this will unload your wallet very quickly! The main thing is to know your budget and be aware of the actual cost, and you will do fine!

After my money exchange on this trip, the bookstores didn’t look as inviting, so sightseeing became far more interesting! (No VAT on seeing the sights and taking pictures!)

London Snowman
One of my favorite ways of seeing the city is to take the double-decker bus and sit in the front seat in the top deck! It is a great way to get pictures of the many city streets.

But with the weather on this November trip so unbelievably nice, I decided to do much of my sightseeing by walking! This way you can see all the interesting shops and displays in the storefronts. And being the start of the Christmas season, Christmas displays were dazzling in many shops!

There are many types of tours to take in London. On my first visit to London in 2000, I took the advice of Stephen Burstein, then Chaplin Society chairman, and took the private Chaplin tour with Tony Merrick.

Tony is a native of the Lambeth, London, where Charlie and Sydney Chaplin grew up. He even has relatives that remember Charlie Chaplin, Sr. Tony guided us to all the areas where Charlie grew up.

From old residences and pubs to original horse stables still located in London, it was a most memorable tour!

With the day full of sightseeing behind me on this November 2003 trip, I looked at my watch and saw it was time to call it a day and prepare for the evening I had waited to experience for many years.

Tony Merrick on Chaplin London Tour

Wes with Tony Merrick on our May 2000 Tour

The Charlie Chaplin Film Festival!
This was my very first time at such event and I didn’t know what to expect. But I knew I was going to meet some very special people!

I have seen all of Chaplin’s films on the small screen and only a few on the big screen. The first film I ever saw on the big screen was Chaplin’s
‘City Lights’ in 1972.

The first film for this London festival was
‘City Lights’ too! But I knew this showing could not have been the same as that showing so long ago…

So while I get ready for the evening Chaplin Festival event, take a journey back to my other Charlie Chaplin film events so long ago…

City Lights ad 1930's
City Lights ad from the 1930's
Garen Ewing
The First Time and others…
It was a warm Saturday morning in 1972 when my mother and I bought our tickets and a couple of boxes of freshly buttered popcorn to see the funniest man on screen!

As the music began, the laughter soon followed! And while I laughed throughout the whole film, I soon realized I was laughing nearly alone! Only four people were seated in the 500-seat theatre in my hometown in Idaho.

I knew then and there, this could not have been the way people saw a Charlie Chaplin film…

April 16,1997! It was a warm spring day again! This time in the state of Oregon. I was channel surfing that night, checking out the hundreds of channels I could never watch in a lifetime, just wanting to find one that would catch my attention long enough to stop!

After countless talking heads I suddenly saw it! A black and white image from the past! An image I saw in 1972, but had not seen since. It was ‘the little fellow’ again! This time, he was getting ready to have a party. The film
‘The Gold Rush’!

Once again, I was laughing until I was brought to tears by the scenes I was watching, but again I realized I was all alone watching a Charlie Chaplin film and this time on a small screen.

And I knew then and there, this certainly was not the way to see a Charlie Chaplin Film…

Elsinore Theatre
Elsinore Theater in Salem, Oregon - March 2001

March 2001!
This time in a classy movie palace in Salem, Oregon! Once again watching a Charlie Chaplin Film on the big screen! The 1920's pipe organ was great, but some of the film quality was not the best.

Again I found myself laughing, but I was not alone! Seated were about 700 other people for a monthly silent film series, but one voice behind me said something I have not forgotten!

‘What is she laughing at?’ the voice behind me said, as I was laughing at Charlie’s ‘funny business’ in
‘Dough and Dynamite’. Than I realized I was laughing alone again, amongst a crowd of hundreds who didn’t understand why I was laughing at a scene in a Charlie Chaplin Film…

There has to be a venue where I would not be alone laughing at a Charlie Chaplin Film!

Royal Festival Hall
Royal Festival Hall - London, England - Nov. 2003

November 2003!

Yet another theatre, yet another city! But this time in another country!


All ready to enter in a special hall built for events!! A place that seated thousands! And this time I wasn’t laughing alone! My laughter got nearly drowned out by the roar of laugher echoing through the hall!

Finally! I was laughing with thousands as we all enjoyed a Charlie Chaplin Film! No empty theatre, no small screen and no one saying, ‘what's she laughing at’, because the house was full of laughter!

This must have been what it was like watching a Charlie Chaplin Film!

Laughter! That is one thing I really remember about the Charlie Chaplin Festival in London. A Hall full of Laughter!

Over 4000 people of many different ages and backgrounds filled The Royal Festival Hall in South Bank London, England, on that first night of the festival.

As soon as the first note struck, all eyes were glued to the screen watching the ‘little fellow’ do his ‘business’. The restored films were excellent adding a fresh look to work done over 70 years ago. And seeing Chaplin on the big screen allows you to see bits that the small screen misses. We discussed too, seeing Charlie's films with a large crowd, you pick up on 'comedy business' overlooked at home on television.

This was also the first time I saw Edna Purviance on the big screen which was an added delight.

London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Carl Davis, was nearly seamless throughout the three-day event. There was a measure here and there that sounded different than the original that I know so well, but seamless, nonetheless. The only disappointment was not actually watching Mr. Davis conduct, because my eyes were so focused on the screen! But I did take a peek once in awhile to remind myself I was really listening to live music.

Ever since I had read about such performances of Chaplin’s films, I wanted to see one! Especially a performance in London with Carl Davis. Carl Davis has gained much fame for his silent film scores over the years. Chaplin’s was among his first work in silent films back in the late 80’s. Davis rescored and recorded Chaplin's original music for the re-release of Chaplin's films for Charlie’s 100th Birthday Celebration in 1989.

Dominique and Emeline with Charlie
Dominique and Emeline with Charlie!
Leicester Square London - Nov. 2003
Garen Ewing - Creator of Rainbow Orchid
So when I first read about this three-day event being planned in London, with Carl Davis conducting, well I could not stop thinking about it.

Dominique Dugros who has most graciously donated his time in creating the French site of Edna Purviance was thinking about going too!

Dominique has a very busy schedule living in France, so being able to meet him in London played an important role in my decision. Then when Garen Ewing expressed interest in going at well, that started the wheels turning to make the trip to London. My husband sealed the deal saying I should go! It fitted the type of event being a three day, with several films, live music with Carl Davis and it was in London! Everything I was looking for!

Seeing Dominique and Garen again was certainly on top of the list! I was introduced to Dominique and Garen at the May 2001 Chaplin Society Festival by Stephen Burstein. It was a short meeting at that time, but we have been in contact ever since! It is Garen who I most credit in encouraging me to place Edna Purviance site on the internet in the first place! He was also the very first person to link to Edna’s site on the worldwide web in November 2001.

Since than the Edna’s site has seen many changes, including the French site created by Dominique Dugros and myself during the year of 2002. There would be no French site without Dominique! I have been very grateful to him. Dominique does all his work for the French site in his free time, which he has not had much of in 2003, with work and personal projects filling his schedule. We do plan to have new pages for Edna’s French Site in the future, but now we were planning a special trip to London!

Both Garen and Dominique, living in Britain and France, have been to such events. Dominique has even traveled to Chaplin events held in the States, including one held at Chaplin’s Studio in 1997. While such events do occur in the States, they are a bit few and FAR between, with them being mainly held in places like Los Angeles or eastern locations. They are held in other cities across the U.S. and Canada too, but it might as well be London, for many U.S. cities can be more expensive to fly to than London from where I live!

Flighting into London
One hour from London

From previous visits to London, I decided that was the place I really wanted to see such an event, and lucky for me, my husband agreed too. With all the tickets purchased, I planned for my London adventure.

The feature films for this event were
‘City Lights’ ,‘The Circus’ and ‘The Kid’ . These were all restored prints with the final edits Chaplin made on each film. (You will not find the extra scenes David Sheppard added back in his 1990’s version of the ‘The Kid’ which Chaplin took out when he re-edited the film in 1970’s.) Plus, before each feature, a Mutual short was shown with new live music scored by Carl Davis. The Mutual shorts were ‘The Cure’ ,‘The Adventurer’ and ‘The Immigrant’.

Two special free film events were included which included a discussion after each showing. The first free event was
‘Kid Auto Races’ followed by a discussion of Chaplin’s work by Paul Merton. The second night was ‘How to Make Movies’ with a discussion by Carl Davis and Kevin Brownlow.

While I enjoyed both events the one I enjoyed the most was seeing ‘How to Make Movies’ since I have never seen the full film before. It is available in the ‘Complete Chaplin DVD Collection'. (Note: Check out the latest versions: DVD and Blu-Ray versions)

On Saturday afternoon, a late added event occurred with the showing of the Richard Schickel documentary
‘Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin’ presented by Jeffery Vance. Vance released his book, ‘Chaplin: The Genius of the Cinema’, in October 2003. I recommend this book especially to people who want to have at least one Chaplin book in their cinema book collection. It is very well reproduced and includes rarely seen photographs.

I would also recommend seeing Schickel’s documentary, which is also available in this collectors edition
‘Complete Chaplin DVD Collection’ . (Note: check out latest DVD and Blu-Ray versions.)

After each showing of the films, there was an intermission. During one of the breaks on the first night, Garen spotted Peter Jewell talking to a gentlemen whose back was turned to us. Garen suggested it was a good time to go down and say hello. Which I did!

Peter was deep in conversation, as he always seems to be, when I tapped him gently on the shoulder during a pause. He quickly remembered me from the May 2001 Chaplin Festival where we first met and even more quickly introduced me to Kevin Brownlow. For Chaplin fans, Kevin, along with the late David Gill, are most known for
'Unknown Chaplin' series.

Well, I don’t know exactly what I said, being a huge fan of Mr. Brownlow’s work and a bit stunned in seeing him. But I know I will never forget this meeting!

Peter Jewell knows many people in the Chaplin world. Peter, along with his lifelong friend, Bill Douglas, amassed a collection of some 50,000 cinema related items during their lifetime together. After Bill’s death in 1991, Peter Jewell donated the collection to Exeter University which created the
Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture.

Peter Jewell and Garen Ewing
Tea with Peter Jewell, on the left and Garen Ewing, on my right.
Photo by: Minette Anthonisz

It was very nice to see Peter after our one meeting in May 2001. We had a very nice chat and tea later with Peter until the Festival hall closed down for the night.

On Sunday afternoon, the final event was held, with a nearly full hall again. I really didn’t want the event to end, but all good things do, and everyone filed out to carry on with life with maybe more of a smile than they came in with.

The three-day event was a very memorable one for me! Especially seeing very special people like Garen, Dominique and Peter again, and meeting new people like Emeline, Elyssa, Minette, Dave and Kevin Brownlow too.

Even if you were not a silent film fan, I would highly recommend seeing one of these events. The music alone is outstanding! And who knows, you may find yourself becoming a silent film fan, as many others have after seeing a Charlie Chaplin film.

Yes! Laughter is one thing I will always remember about the Charlie Chaplin Festival in London. A Hall full of Laughter! And especially sharing that laugher with some very special people…

After the festival, I continued to tour London, saw the musical Les Miserables and traveled on to Wales to visit longtme friends.

And as far as traveling to an international city in a time people don’t believe it is safe?

Well, there are places that are in troubled times these days, but traveling to London is just as safe as traveling to any America city, if not more so, with the added security around. Just keep a low profile and treat people with respect, and you should have a most enjoyable time in this most historic of cities.

I will always remember this November 2003 Chaplin trip, and the UK is a place I will visit again.

Garen, Emeline and Dominique
Garen, Emeline and Dominique - Royal Festival Hall

Linda Wada – December 31, 2003
Photos: Linda Wada and Minette Anthonisz
Editing help: Wes Wada

Special thanks to the following for making my UK stay a very memorable one:

Garen and Elyssa from England, Dominique and Emeline from France, Peter from England, Paul and Bev from Wales, and Minette from England. And Wes Wada for making it possible.

Charlie Chaplin is a trademark of Bubbles Inc. SA used with permission. Charlie Chaplin, Chaplin and the Little Tramp, the images of Chaplin's on this website and the names of Mr. Chaplin's films are all trademarks and/or services marks of Bubbles Inc. SA and/or Roy Export Company Establishment used with permission. All Charlie Chaplin images Copyright 2001-2016 Roy Export Establishment. All rights reserved.

Photos of Edna Purviance courtesy of British Film Library

All other content Copyright 2003 - 2016 - Linda Wada, WadaWorks, All Rights Reserved