June 12, 1978 12:00 PM

“I’ve gone through a hell of a lot,” says Charlie Chaplin at the outset of this 80-minute biography. It was an understatement. Narrated by Walter Matthau, the film includes scenes (some famous, some never before released in the U.S.) from 17 Chaplin films as well as relatively honest looks at his world—scandalizing affairs, marriages and divorces (three of his four wives were teenagers). There is also touching home footage of the serene years with his last wife, Oona, and their eight children, including actress daughter Geraldine as a tot. It is puzzling in retrospect how Chaplin could have been hounded into Swiss exile by the likes of Hedda Hopper prating against his sex life and right-wing attempts to brand him a Communist fellow traveler. It’s easy to understand, though, why Shaw called Chaplin the “one genius created by cinema.” As a charming early short demonstrates, Chaplin did it all—acting, writing, directing, producing and even composing. And nobody did it better. (G)

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