You are on page 1of 17

This article was downloaded by: [University of Pennsylvania]

On: 26 October 2013, At: 17:03


Publisher: Routledge
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered
office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Journal of Latin American Cultural
Studies: Travesia
Publication details, including instructions for authors and
subscription information:
http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjla20
Replaying Carlitos: Chaplin, Latin
American Film Comedy and the
Paradigm of Imitation
Jason Borge
To cite this article: Jason Borge (2013) Replaying Carlitos: Chaplin, Latin American Film Comedy
and the Paradigm of Imitation, Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies: Travesia, 22:3, 271-286,
DOI: 10.1080/13569325.2013.804808
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13569325.2013.804808
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE
Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the
Content) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis,
our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to
the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions
and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,
and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content
should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources
of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,
proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever
or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or
arising out of the use of the Content.
This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any
substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,
systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &
Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-
and-conditions
Jason Borge
REPLAYING CARLITOS: CHAPLIN, LATIN
AMERICAN FILM COMEDY AND THE
PARADIGM OF IMITATION
i |. !o1o.| o1, Hybrid Cultures, :. c. co.. o co.!.. .... c...o!., o1 .
cc.. ..o.c o .o1.oo. oo!,..o! o.o1. c. to. +....o .o!o.o!
.o.... 1|. o.. o.o. c. o ...o!oo.c c |. ..o.c o.o1., o.o. |o .
|co!1 /. o1..cc1 ..|.. o o ,c, c .c!c.o! o/c.1.o.c (o co.. o co.!..
.!..) c., . uc. i|o/|o .., o o 1o..co!, 1.o/.!... . c o..o!
..... c!.o .c.. c 1. co. (1....c) . ..|o o c.. o.c..o. c1. c
oo!,., ... . .oo.. |. !o,o! c..!!o.c /... |. .... c ... co!..1
/, co.. o co.!.. o1 i|o/|o to. +....o ! .c.1, ..!o.c|. .|
uc!!,cc1 .c |. :v+ |.co| |. :v o1 ....o!!, . .1..o.
..o. c c|o.!.. c|o!. c.| .!!o.o. o.| .... 1....c t.c co..|
...co.c c |co. o1 oco.c, o. |. c|o!..o. o1oo.c c
co.o, 1. 1o, o1 to. :o1..., o1 |. o!.o!. o.c1.. c i.o..!.o
.|o.|o1o, to. +....o ! .c.1, c |. ...c1 o.1 ..o.c o o |.., .!o..,
o1 .....o! .c. ...o!. !c.o! o1 o.co! o/.. .c..co !.| .| |..c..
c1.!
In a recent analysis of Charles Chaplins impersonators, imitators and emulators,
Jennifer M. Bean explores the concept of the Chaplinesque, which, she says, means
to adopt a persona [ . . . ] which is not a proper identity at all, but rather a
performance. Hence the tramps persona travels; its semiotic power is transitive (Bean
2010: 244). At issue, Bean argues, is not Chaplins originality but rather, in a sense, the
opposite: as an artist, by his own admission, Chaplin gleaned his famous characters
walk, attire and mannerisms from a number of different sources, ranging from fellow
music hall performers to a certain charismatic cab driver (239). Chaplin frequently
reproduced gags on screen not just from his old vaudeville acts, moreover, but also
from his own earlier lms. His copying was so widespread and elaborate, in fact, that
Bean can argue without exaggeration that what Chaplin excelled at was the art of
imitation, the mimicking of an always-absent original thing or self (238).
The world would return the favor in fold, imitating Chaplin right down to his
knack for imitation. The English-born actors status as an enduringly successful actor
and lmmaker vouchsafed him the artistic freedom with which to work at once within
and outside the commercial connes of Hollywood. Yet the fact that Chaplin was
widely imitated is not just a function of his unparalleled celebrity, but also a testament
q 2013 Taylor & Francis
jco.o! c to. +....o co!o.o! :o1.., 2013
Vol. 22, No. 3, 271286, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13569325.2013.804808
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

to his unmatched ..o/.!.,. To say that the Tramp travels is to suggest not only the
peripatetic nature of Chaplins vagabond, nor just the rapid dissemination of the Tramp
lms throughout much of the world, from the metropolis to the periphery, during but
also since the apex of Chaplins popularity. The Tramps transitivity also suggests ease
of reconstitution his travel to spaces beyond his own.
One such destination was Latin America, where Chaplin and his perennial
character, generally known in the region as Carlitos or Charlot, would have a profound
impact on generations of writers, lmmakers and actors. In this paper, I would like to
sketch some of the ways in which mid-20th-century Latin American actors and
lmmakers adapted the Tramp into narratives that went beyond simple imitation, thus
appropriating Chaplin for local consumption beyond the grave of silent cinema. An
analysis of a representative sample of Chaplinesque Latin American comedies from
the 1940s and 1950s Miguel Delgados i! ....c (1943, starring Cantinas), the Tin
Tan vehicle i! oo/o1c (1953), Lucas Demares c|.c!c (1940, starring the
Argentine comedic actor Luis Sandrini) and the Brazilian chanchada co.oo! +!o.1o
(1952) will show how ideologically contentious, locally nuanced tributes to Chaplin
and Hollywood generally turned mimesis against the US lm industry and its local
agents and emulators, revealing the limits of Hollywoods supposedly universal
applicability. In spite of their many divergences, I would like to argue, all these lms
appropriate Chaplin (both as a picture personality and an off-screen star) as an elastic
trope through which to re-articulate local and national identities in ways that highlight
both their intimate links with and their alienation from metropolitan models.
Imitation, then, becomes not just a formal device but also a shifting object of analysis.
As Michael Taussig, Homi Bhabha, Roman de la Campa, Nelly Richard and others
have suggested, mimesis and mimicry are inextricably linked to questions of
coloniality. Indeed, the difference between Chaplin and the Chaplinesque is somewhat
akin to Bhabhas distinction between being English and being Anglicized, in the sense
that both hinge on [t]hose inappropriate signiers of colonial discourse (Bhabha 2004:
128). Seen in this way, early- to mid-20th-century imitations of Chaplin are
disturbances that x Latin American discourse as partial presence but also destabilize
colonial authority. In his essay Mimicry and the Uncanny in Caribbean Discourse,
meanwhile, de la Campa attempts to reconcile Bhabhas work with local colonial
practices, proposing Glissants concept of diversion (1. co.) as a reexive practice
straddling the extremes of mimesis understood on one hand as imitation bordering
on subordination, and on the other as mimicry in Bhabhas ambivalent sense, always
threatening to drift into menace (De la Campa 1999: 11314).
As both Bhabha and de la Campa suggest, imitative projects and practices are
inevitably fraught with instability and paradox. Nestor Garc a Canclini and Jesus
Mart n-Barbero, nevertheless, have both warned against characterizing Latin American
culture as one based fundamentally on imitation. Garc a Canclini famously argues that
neither the paradigm of imitation nor its opposite the paradigm of originality
serves as an adequate model of analysis of hybrid Latin American cultures (Garc a
Canclini 1995: 6). In a review of Garc a Canclinis watershed study, Mart n-Barbero
praises the formers insight that the crisis of Latin American modernity consists not of
its lack of homegrown modernization per se but rather intellectuals idealized images
of European modernity, which held Latin America to untenable standards and
prevented its !..o1c from recognizing the uniqueness of their own societies and
L AT I N AME RI CAN CUL T URAL S T UDI E S 2 7 2
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

cultural practices. Just as European modernity was not the lineal result of socio-
economic modernization, Mart n-Barbero writes, neither was Latin American
modernization limited to imitation and duplication (Mart n-Barbero 1993: 157).
Latin American intellectuals general veneration of Chaplin shows that Europe was
not the only source of idealized images. As an English-born actor who made his lm
career in the United States, Chaplin was in his time routinely identied, in more-or-less
equal measure, with both Europe (particularly the UK) and North America. Although
Chaplin did not generally seek to distance himself from the nation or the industry
through which he gained his celebrity, his lettered Latin American fans sometimes
sought to cast Chaplin as a European immigrant entrapped by Hollywood: a prisoner
not just of his own celebrity but also, by association, of global capitalism at large.
One of the most telling initial assessments of Chaplin in this regard is Jose Carlos
Mariateguis essay Esquema de una explicacion de Chaplin (rst published in +ooo
in 1928) in which the Peruvian writer praises the actor as an exemplar of bohemian
vernacular culture, an assassin of the bourgeois theater, and the elegant avatar of the
English clown tradition. By casting Chaplin as a beleaguered Old World performer
harassed by North Americas banality and puerility, Mariategui conveniently ignores
both the USs own fully developed circus and vaudeville heritage from which Chaplin
drew, and also the US culture industry through which Chaplin rened his Little
Tramp and brought him to movie screens worldwide (Mariategui 2005: 17273).
Mariategui thus unnecessarily seeks to place Chaplin squarely within rened
European popular traditions, a maneuver consistent with the Latin American avant-
gardes tendency, as described by Garc a Canclini, to champion idealized images of
Continental modernity.
1
Using Chaplin as an example, however, I would like to
propose the currency of the imitation paradigm in Latin America, particularly if we
understand the term neither as just a synonym of colonial subordination (originalitys
other) nor as a destabilizing sign of partial presence, but rather as a complex,
multivalent mode of engagement with hegemonic modernity, one ranging from
imposture and impersonation to parody and homage.
Mexican comedy and the limits of impersonation
Before he became the subject of creative reconversion, Chaplin was the model and
prototype par excellence for straightforward impersonation and even plagiarism.
Indeed, it is difcult to write of the lingering inuence of the silent star without rst
talking briey about the widespread attempts to imitate Chaplin outright. In addition to
various renowned actors who began their careers occasionally imitating Chaplin (Stan
Laurel, Harold Lloyd, Bob Hope) as well as those who made a living at it (Billy West),
it is also worth noting the scores of lesser-known Chaplin imitators, including the US
vaudeville performer Minerva Courtney, who played herself (imitating the tramp) in a
lm called, plainly, M. M...o cco.., . u.. i..co.c c c|o.!.. c|o!. (1915).
Courtneys picture featured a systematic, and reputedly accurate, recreation of a
segment of Chaplins 1|. c|o.c, which had been released four months earlier (Bean
2010: 249).
For the purpose of this essay, however, the most signicant and unusual case of
Tramp impersonation involved a Mexican actor, Carlos Amador, who for several years
T HE P ARADI GM OF I MI T AT I ON 2 7 3
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

went by the screen moniker Charles Aplin and repeatedly imitated the Tramp in a
series of short-reels released by Western Feature Film Company (Bean 2010: 252).
Amadors protable imitation eventually came to the attention of Chaplin himself, who
sued the Mexican actor and eventually won in a much-publicized verdict rendered by
the State of California in 1925. By 1923, according to an account published in the New
York-based lm magazine c.. Mo1.o!, Amador had apparently assumed the name of
none other than Billy West, who had retired from acting earlier that decade.
Incredibly, the account suggests that the actor was in fact born in Russia under the
name of Roy Weissberg (Wests given name), and had only assumed a Mexican identity
(as Amador) under the pressure of Chaplins copyright suit, which had forced Amador
to move to Mexico in order to continue performing freely as the Tramp (Ram rez
1989: 249).
The episode suggests not only the desperation with which Chaplins impersonators
often clung to their right to impersonate, but also the uidity of the lines that separated
impersonation from outright imposture.
2
Federico Davalos Orozco, while using
archival evidence to refute the assertion that Weissberg and Amador were in fact the
same person, nevertheless entertains the possibility that the Mexican actor had
regularly passed himself off as West (Davalos Orozco 1990: 83). A similar but more
plausible explanation comes from Guillermo Vaidovits and Emilio Garc a Riera, who
speculate that Amador was in fact born in Guadalajara but raised in Los Angeles,
borrowing Weissbergs moniker only after the Russian actor had retired in the early
1920s to go into the restaurant business (Vaidovits 1989: 101).
Garc a Riera claims that Amador only acted in one more Hollywood lm after the
beginning of the rst copyright trial the short called + o, . 1.ooo (dir. Robert
McKenzie, 1925), lmed across the border to avoid legal complications (Garc a Riera
1992: 18). When Amador returned to Mexico denitively after the second, appellate
court trial (1928), he continued impersonating Chaplin, most notably in the lm
1..../!. .o1.!!o (1930, directed by Amador himself). El A

guila studios used the actors


notoriety as Hollywood plagiarist, moreover, to market the lm, writing in its
publicity: The rst comic picture lmed in the Mexican Republic, directed by Charles
Amador, the ingenious artist sued by Chaplin and brought to trial in the US courts.
Amador has returned from Hollywood [ . . . ] to achieve denitive consecration in his
homeland (cited in Ram rez 1989: 250). Although c.. Mo1.o! had praised Amador as
the least bad of the comics [ . . . ] who tried in vain to falsify Chaplin (Ram rez 1989:
249), what remains of 1..../!. .o1.!!o, writes Garc a Riera, is indeed a nightmare in
terms of cinematic technique and execution, though, he writes, the end result is
ultimately more pathetic than terrible (Garc a Riera 1992: 17).
Given the relative scarcity of reliable information about Amadors life and work, it
is difcult to assess to what extent the actor transposed the Tramp identity to reect
local conditions and sensibilities. What is clearer is that the renowned plaintiffs partial
victory in Chaplin v. Amador served notice that, in the future, his imitators would
either have to stop performing (as Billy West did), or go to greater lengths to disguise
their debt to the Tramps dress and mannerisms. Indeed, the celebrated court decisions
virtually criminalized overt, on-screen impersonations of the Tramp and other
celluloid characters of a similar stature. In a recent study examining the Chaplin-
Amador case in detail, Peter Decherney has observed how early silent cinema drew
heavily from music hall and vaudeville traditions in which impersonation, mimicry and
L AT I N AME RI CAN CUL T URAL S T UDI E S 2 7 4
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

parody played a central role (Decherney 2011). Indeed, as Susan A. Glenn has noted in
her study on early 20
th
-century vaudeville, [s]o popular was mimicry that one musical
revue playing in Chicago in 1908 featured several burlesques of the trend, including a
song called The Imitation Craze(Glenn 1998: 47). Consequently, silent comedy was
at the center of changes to copyright law, as stars such as Chaplin, Buster Keaton and
Laurel and Hardy sought to protect screen personae developed, ironically, in a culture
of imitation. In the 1920s, thanks largely to the legal actions of such comedians, the
courts shifted from addressing imitation and borrowing as natural forms of cultural
development to seeing them as theft (Decherney 2011: 136).
The result in Latin America, however, was not an end to cinematic imitation, but
rather a fundamental change in its modality. Outright impersonation of Carlitos, who
remained vastly popular in the region decades into the sound era, yielded to a
heterogeneous and often nuanced combination of emulation, adaptation and quotation.
In short, the over-the-top approach favored by the actors silent-era imitators gave way
to the rise of the Chaplinesque.
In this sense, Amadors main successor in Mexico was Mario Moreno, whose
performance in i! ....c was obviously intended to evoke Chaplins 1928 classic 1|. c...o.
In both lms, the bedraggled protagonist (while the Tramp is a vagabond, Cantinas is a
struggling shoe repairman) stumbles into the circus, falls in the love with the owners
daughter, and ultimately exacts a revenge on the screen villain before departing,
heroically alone. Both the Tramp and Cantinas are accidental performers, drawn by
money and amorous desire to the Big Top. i! ....c, however, turns up the volume on
Chaplins encounters with circus life, illustrating the parallels between circus comedy and
lm slapstick while also updating the traditional clown. Chaplins Tramp naturalistic,
an improviser, an unwitting crowd favorite symbolically displaces the melancholy
renement of the traditional circus performers, who appear in the lm as rather forlorn
and perfunctory and therefore commercially unviable. The fact that the Tramp cannot
master the conventional clown numbers (e.g. William Tell, the Barber Shop), succeeding
at being a funny man at the expense of convention, only proves that his humor transcends
the circus: like the lm itself, the Tramp is post-.......
Even more so than the Little Tramp, Cantinass bungles and miscues expose the
superannuated artice of the circus world. Whereas the Tramp on two occasions
inadvertently reveals the contents of the magicians bag of tricks, to hilarious effect,
Cantinas knowingly proves the falsity of the strong mans exploits (hollow barbells). If
the Tramps ineptitude comes from a lack of knowledge but not physical ability, in
other words, Cantinas as a circus performer is at once less ignorant of o1 more
physically overwhelmed by the challenges of the circus. When one of the companys
trapeze artists is abducted, Cantinas takes his place through clever imposture. The
plot twist partly mirrors Chaplins lm, in which the Tramp is forced by the circus
owner to ll in for an injured tightrope walker, but trades the threat of termination/
economic destitution for a criminal menace missing in Chaplins scenario. In spite of
Chaplins social pathos, in other words, there is little in 1|. c...o that would identify
the Big Top as a local site subject to discrete normative values and laws.
By contrast, i! ....cs masks, machinations and slang-inected dialogue mark the
lm plainly as a Mexican comedy about a Mexican circus. Clearly, we are no longer in
the realm of Carlos Amadors wholesale imitation of Chaplins short lms. One of the
ways i! ....c identies itself as a local adaptation rather than a mimetic tribute or
T HE P ARADI GM OF I MI T AT I ON 2 7 5
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

remake is through Cantinass unique characterization of the .!o1.c. Carlos Monsivais
distinguishes the term .!o1.c from Samuel Ramoss classic denition of the .!o1c
introduced in the landmark study i! ..! 1.! |c/.. , !o .o!o.o . M. ..c. For Ramos,
the .!o1c was emblematic not just of Mexicos new urban poor but also of the nations
inferiority complex amid rapid modernization, compensating for its marginality
through the camouage of crudeness and aggression (Ramos 1934: 75). Ramoss
notion of the .!o1cs camouage as a pathetic mask of power and authority
anticipates Bhabhas own use of the term, recast in Of mimicry and man as a
prodigious gure of threatening resemblance (Bhabha 2004: 12829). According to
Monsivais, on the other hand, Cantinass .!o1.c [inverted] the social signicance of
the stereotype by taming it, defanging the .!o1c by rendering his nervous bravado into
comedic incoherence (Monsivais 1997: 99100). Monsivais thus suggests that
Cantinas was instrumental in making the infamous national icon palatable to Mexicans
of different social and ideological stripes.
Ramos denes the .!o1c as outside the scope of the working classes. In the
economic pecking order, he writes, [The .!o1c ] is less than proletarian, and
intellectually a primitive (Ramos 1934: 71). In this sense Ramoss argument bears an
uncanny resemblance to Roland Barthess take on Chaplin. Barthes remarked that
Chaplins character did not embody the proletariat but rather a state of humanity that
either eludes industrialization and class conict, or happens upon them by accident. In a
sense, therefore, the Little Tramp is a pre-modern subject, a primitive proletarian
[ . . . ] ensnared by starvation (Barthes 1982: 39).
3
Monsivais, however, suggests that
studies citing close correlations between Cantinas and the Little Tramp are often
exaggerated (104). And indeed, any comparison of 1|. c...o and i! ....c reveals not
just parallels between the two but also telling divergences. As a character in a talking
picture, for starters, Cantinas o..o. the tight spots in which he nds himself,
proving a running commentary on the risks run by o!! trapeze artists and tightrope
walkers. At the same time, as a .!o1.c, he translates such dangers into an absurd local
lexicon that blunts their menace.
While echoing i! ....cs stress on the clown as chatty cultural interlocutor, i!
oo/o1c (starring German Valdes as Tin Tan) broadens the scope of the imitative
humor to include satire mostly lacking in Cantinass take on Chaplin. Despite the
lms title, which would seem to suggest an elaboration on Chaplins 1916 short 1|.
oo/c1, i! oo/o1c does not even loosely mimic a unitary Chaplin original, and
instead resembles a Chaplinesque collage more than an adaptation. The rst half of the
lm places ragged Tin Tan on the streets of Mexico City, leaning heavily on Tramp-like
pathos when, with a nod to 1|. x.1 (with Jackie Coogan), the starving Tin Tan gives up
a taco to an equally hungry street urchin. The emphasis on poverty and hunger echoes
any number of Chaplin lms. Yet i! oo/o1c clearly draws most heavily from the
memorable hallucinations of 1|. cc!1 ro| (1925), in which the Tramp feasts on a
leather boot and his fellow prospector mistakes him for a giant chicken. The opening
scene of i! oo/o1c shows Tin Tan staring at a chicken through the shop window on
Christmas Eve, imagining he is devouring the dangling bird down to the bone. The
scene is followed by another in which Tin Tan argues with his growling stomach then,
delirious with hunger, sees a stray dog eating from a garbage can as a giant hot dog; the
dog counters by imagining Tin Tan as a giant bone, and chases him down the street
accordingly.
L AT I N AME RI CAN CUL T URAL S T UDI E S 2 7 6
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

Once the action has shifted to the Big Top (escaping the police, Tin Tan is awoken
in a hay bale by an elephant), the story and the gags closely resemble those of 1|. c...o
and i! ....c: the Vagabond falls in love, overcomes his ineptitude and vanquishes the
villain, all amid the backdrop of lions, knives and high-wire acts although the
conclusion updates Chaplin and Cantinas by placing the ownership of the circus in the
hands of our hero. In spite of its happy ending, i! oo/o1c, through the mechanism of
satirical musical numbers and patently false love scenes, mocks the excess of
conventional Mexican and Hollywood melodramas. The title song, for example
(Vagabundo feliz), is a clear send-up of Singin in the Rain, made famous one year
earlier by Gene Kelly in the eponymous MGM musical (incidentally, about a silent lm
companys troubles in adjusting to the arrival of talking pictures). That the Mexican
man singing in the rain is a bumbling tramp instead of a graceful actor, his happiness
induced by a full stomach rather than a promise of love, lampoons the frivolousness of
such Hollywood productions. It also points to the impoverished conditions not just of
Mexican urban life but also of the Mexican lm industry relative to Hollywood. With
his pathos-inected humor, highly dependent on physical expression and movement,
Tin Tan is stylistically a closer t to the Tramp than Cantinas.
The main irony of i! oo/o1c is that the lm appropriates what is after all a
Hollywood character (the Tramp) to parody mainstream Hollywoods rhetoric of
excess and frequent obliviousness to social problems. One could add that such a
paradox is also highly Chaplinesque, since Chaplin himself frequently used humor to
criticize the culture industry that made him a millionaire. Yet Tin Tans layered
imitation of Chaplin makes sense on another level as well. As Javier Duran has noted,
beginning with the 1949 lm i! .., 1.! /o...c, Tin Tan had gradually given up his o.|o.c
attire and speech for those of a more Mexican .!o1c. The despachuquizacion of Tin
Tan, Duran suggests, constituted a direct response to President Miguel Alemans
modernization campaign, which preferred the unassimilated .!o1.c to the contra-
modern o.|o.c, with its connotations of c.|.o menace and cultural contamination
(Duran 2002: 44, 47). In political terms, Chaplins vagabond thus serves as a
convenient model for both Tin Tan and Cantinas, since the Tramp lends both
characters a modern guise and universal point of reference without straying visibly
from the unimpeachably Mexican terrain of the .!o1.c.
On vagabonds and cocoliches
Mexicos was not the only Latin American lm industry of the mid-century sound era
to fashion picture personalities out of local, national and international blueprints. Even
if immigration patterns and institutional politics varied widely during the early 20th
century, the rapid industrialization and social turmoil of cities like Buenos Aires and
Sao Paulo were loosely analogous to conditions in Mexico City. It should hardly be
surprising, therefore, that the Argentine stock gure Cocoliche resembled the .!o1.c
in its embodiment of the dangers of urbanization. Born on the circus stage in the 1880s,
the .c.c!..|. was apparently the invention of two actors and one stagehand of the drama
joo Mc....o.
4
The gure quickly became not just one of the plays featured characters,
but also a symbol of cultural and linguistic confusion associated with the Italian-Spanish
dialect spoken by many immigrants in and around Buenos Aires. The characters
T HE P ARADI GM OF I MI T AT I ON 2 7 7
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

popularity was based on its unique double parody of both legitimate Argentines and
illegitimate immigrants through exaggerated dress and speech. In short, as Micol
Seigel has written, the .c.c!..|. was a feminized copy of a copy of a Gaucho that at
once mocked the hyper-masculinity of the oo.|..o tradition and Italian immigrants
attempts to ape the ultimate ...c!!c model of respectable national identity.
Cocoliches, therefore, were gures that overstepped, in multiple ways, the closely
bounded categories elites yearned to impose on turn-of-the-century social relations
(Seigel 2000: 6263).
If Argentine cinema never produced stars who so fully embodied the .c.c!..|. the
way Cantinas did the .!o1.c, a number of comedic stars borrowed considerably from
the clownish rube, albeit less directly. Golden Age lm actors Luis Arata, Enrique
Muino and Luis Sandrini developed what theatre historian Osvaldo Pellettieri calls the
cocoliche existencial, a version of the original character that implied an intermingling
of absurd laughter and melodrama, and internalized caricature rather than just
outward folly. The key to such comedic practice was what Pellettieri refers to as a
fusion between the o..o (facial contortion connoting sentimentality) and the oo..o
(theatricalized ridicule closely associated with the circus and o... o...c). Typical
also of the .c..c ...c!!c, such stylistic confusion was simultaneously seamless and
unstable, since, in the end, it was destined to destroy the harmony of the ..... .
(Pellettieri 2008: 249).
Of the three famous Argentine actors, Pellettieri contends, it was Luis Sandrini
who epitomized the balancing act of the cocoliche existencial characterized by both
visceral comic appeal and psychological depth (Pellettieri 2001: 186). Although, like
Mario Moreno and German Valdes, he frequently played roles that stressed broad
physical comedy and satire, Sandrinis forte was the type of part that allowed him to
display his full emotional and stylistic range. In this sense, the Argentine actors
uncanny fusion of o..o and oo..o was akin to Chaplins penchant for conveying
playfulness and pathos often at the same time.
As lm historian Domingo Di Nubila suggests (1998: 299), perhaps Sandrinis
most Chaplinesque performance was his turn as the title character of Lucas Demares
c|.c!c (1940), in which Sandrini plays a happy vagabond and petty thief who saves a
millionaires son from drowning. When Chingolo is offered reward money, he scoffs at
it, remarking that [o]ne does not charge for such things. One does them for free, or
one does not do them at all. The vagabonds high ethical principles and indifference to
money impress the boys mother in particular, who decides to make him her pet
project, giving him a room in her mansion and a job in her husbands peach-processing
plant. The characters ragged nobility is clearly cut from the cloth of Chaplins
Tramp, and draws particularly from the plotlines and sight gags of 1|. 1.o (1915)
and 1|. cc!1 ro|. In an early scene, for example, Chingolo and his two vagabond
cohorts are about to dig into a stolen duck when Chingolo reminds them to mind their
manners, maintaining a modicum of propriety in dire circumstances. The scene alludes
to the same famous scene from 1|. cc!1 ro| re-worked by i! oo/o1c, one in which
the Tramp solemnly serves a meal of cooked boots to his fellow prospector, savoring
the shoelaces as if the two snowbound miners were dining in an elegant restaurant.
For Chingolo, as for the Little Tramp, sentimental imperatives trump questions of
money, social rank or recognition. Hence he risks his job at the processing plant by co-
opting the oor managers loudspeaker system in an effort to distribute canned peaches
L AT I N AME RI CAN CUL T URAL S T UDI E S 2 7 8
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

to the poor, and risks eviction from the mansion where he lives by inviting his homeless
friends to sate themselves on the ample supply of food and drink. In the end, once
Chingolo discovers that the woman he loves (Lida) plans to marry the wealthy scion of
his host family, he forsakes material comfort for a return to the fraternal warmth of the
streets. In these nal scenes, Sandrini demonstrates his mastery not just of the oo..o
but also of the o..o, as the actor seamlessly switches from nuanced slapstick to a
broader, more melodramatic style, wringing the pathos out the characters unspoken
love for Lida in a deant, principled return to rags.
Demares lm, however, diverges from the Chaplin prototype in a number of key
ways. In the rst place, unlike the simply ineffectual or distracted Tramp, Chingolo is
not in the least bit interested in conventional work. On the contrary, the word itself
(trabajo) puts him off. Whenever he is offered a job, whether xing a at tire or
preparing an apartment for rent, Chingolo displays outright disdain. Unlike Barthess
notion of the classless, pre-modern Tramp ensnared by starvation (1982: 39),
Chingolo exhibits both a starving-class consciousness and, paradoxically, an aristocratic
hostility to work and the workplace. The Tramp, when he gets work, tends to lose the
job through his own incompetence; Chingolo, as soon as he is hired, actively seeks to
get red. He is above salaried work, in other words: more oc than oo/o1c.
In this sense, Sandrinis Chingolo more closely resembles William Powells
covertly aristocratic turn in Gregory La Cavas screwball comedy M, Mo cc1..,
(1936) than Chaplins perennial character. Like Powells Godfrey, Chingolo appears
strangely at home amid the world of privilege he seeks to subvert: a reluctant
gentleman rather than a bumbling mist. In one of c|.c!cs most memorable scenes,
the host familys o.co, dona Locaria, intent on educating Chingolo in the virtues of
work, promises him a clerks position in her husbands factory; un empleo comodo y
agradable, she promises. In spite of his aversion to salaried employment, Chingolo
accepts the job. Demares peach cannery is a site of rigid hierarchy and useless order, of
endless typing and shufing of papers a less technological, more bureaucratic version
of Chaplins factory in Mc1.. 1... By representing the modern Argentine factory as a
site of pointless red tape, hypocrisy and tyranny, Demare justies Chingolos resistance
to work in the rst place, not on the grounds of natural aristocracy but rather ethical
principle. His host family illustrates the moral bankruptcy of the Argentine elite. The
factory owner, don Filemon, is a parody of the ruthless, greedy plutocrat, while his
wife embodies the naive vanity of wealthy philanthropists intent on re-making the poor
and marginalized in their own image.
c|.c!cs sober ending illustrates the perils inherent in the working classes blind
envy of the bourgeoisie. In an attempt to win the respect of Lida, Chingolo eventually
employs dirty tactics to save don Filemons business from nancial ruin, ably
mimicking the o.cs dubious model of success. The character ultimately chooses,
however, to renounce his hard-earned bourgeois pretensions and accomplishments
including his claims to Lida opting for plainly unproductive misery over the venality
and falsehood associated with the Argentine upper classes. The script thus provides a
denouement consistent with the lms overall comic pathos and Chaplinesque story
arc. c|.c!cs uniquely acerbic vision, unlike the lighter satire of lms like M, Mo
cc1..,, comes from the way the Argentine lm categorically rejects Hollywood
models of social imitation: if, like Godfrey, Chingolo also returns to the streets at the
end of the picture, it is to ..co.. wealth, not to duplicate it. As for the high-bourgeois
T HE P ARADI GM OF I MI T AT I ON 2 7 9
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

host family, they are beyond redemption. Demares work thus reects at once the rise
in Argentine working-class nationalism that would soon lead to the ascent of Juan
Peron, and also the populist vanguard convictions of screenwriters Nicolas Olivari,
Carlos A. Olivari and Sixto Pondal R os. c|.c!cs script, in short, trades in screwball
closure for sober socialist idealism, exposing the bourgeoisies cult of productivity as a
sham and worse, suggesting that the Argentine ruling elite is little more than a
hollow imitation of Northern metropolitan models. Yet it does so while selectively co-
opting and subverting conventions of the Hollywood social comedy. c|.c!c borrows
liberally from North American sources, in other words, but in ways that serve its
pointed political objectives without ever straying far from the lexicon of the cocoliche
existencial.
Brazilian chanchadas and the maze of mirrors
In spite of c|.c!cs deftly rendered screenplay, Demares lm ultimately hinges on the
particular feel Sandrini brings to the role. The actors broad emotional palette and
internalized caricature lend the lm the depth also informing German Valdess
performance in i! oo/o1c and, to a lesser extent, Mario Morenos .!o1.c in i! ....c.
Sandrini, Valdes and Moreno were the closest that Latin American lmindustries came to
approximating Chaplins comedic .o.o. Although Brazil boasted of its own mid-
century comedic stars such as Oscarito, Grande Otelo and Mazzaropi the national
lm industry never produced funnymen with the reach and versatility of Sandrini, much
less the celebrity of Moreno and Valdes. Indeed, as is well known, the countrys only bona
de international star of the period, Carmen Miranda, reached her greatest celebrity in
Hollywood. If Brazils lm industry could not sustain a star system on the level of the
Mexican or Argentine Golden Age, however, smaller-scale and/or short-lived studios
like Cinedia, Vera Cruz and (especially) Atlantida still managed to produce comedic lms
of remarkable ambition and originality. Indeed, it is perhaps the absence of a consistently
viable, centralized lm industry that explains the special piquancy of Brazilian comedy of
the 1940s and 1950s, in particular Atlantidas .|o.|o1o.
Perhaps nowhere are parody and national identity further front and center than in
Jose Carlos Burles co.oo! +!o.1o, which burlesques Hollywood mega-productions
at the same time as it lampoons the highfalutin pretensions and relative poverty of
national lm production. The plot revolves around a lm producer named Cec lio B.
de Milho, studio head of Acropole Filmes (a send-up of Vera Cruz), who has plans to
produce an epic drama set in ancient Greece with the help of a hapless and sexually
repressed classics professor (Professor Xenofontes), played by Oscarito. The studios
actors and workers, however (including a minor character played by Grande Otelo),
conspire to turn the production into a Carnival-themed .|o.|o1o instead the brand
of cinema the real-life Atlantida had made its specialty. Although not the obvious point
of reference he was in i! ....c, i! oo/o1c or c|.c!c, Chaplin still manages to cast a
long shadow over co.oo! +!o.1o, whose main villain, an impostor who calls himself
Count Verdura (played by a young Jose Lewgoy), adopts exaggerated Tramp
mannerisms in his effort to convince Dr. Cec lio that he is t to marry his niece and
secure a role in the lm. The breadth and complexity of the imitation paradigm here is
on full display. Lewgoy, in effect, pulls off a triple performance, portraying a personal
L AT I N AME RI CAN CUL T URAL S T UDI E S 2 8 0
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

.|oo.o. masquerading as a count by imitating the Tramps frequent efforts to ape the
upper classes.
5
To underscore the Counts pathetic imposture, the character, when his
acting credentials are questioned by Dr. Cec lio, replies that he is so famous that
everyone imitates me, even this guy, displaying a magazine photo of Chaplin himself.
The scene comically underscores what Bhabha calls the ambivalent slippage of
colonial mimicry almost the same [as the original], but not quite (2004: 122) by
blowing up the imitative act to absurd proportions, while mocking Verduras imitation
as .c.o!!, inappropriate as well.
This early episode, at once derivative and self-consciously critical of its own
quotation, introduces the 1....c (in Roman de la Campas sense of the word, after
Glissant) with which the rest of co.oo! +!o.1o would freely riff on Chaplin and
other Hollywood gures. In the longest of the Brazilian lms many dream and fantasy
sequences, the ersatz Count imagines himself being served and entertained at an
elegant restaurant, nally seducing one of the cabaret singers (actually a secretary at
Acropole Filmes); when the two enter his automobile, however, the driver turns out to
be a carbon copy of Verdura himself. The sequence draws from Chaplins work in both
form and content. On one hand, it is devoid of any dialogue, allowing Lewgoy to
display his subtle mastery of silent lm pantomime and comedic timing, amid a setting
(an upscale restaurant) and a narrative device (the dream sequence) favored by Chaplin.
The scenes silent lm quotation is punctuated with cameos by Oscarito and Grande
Otelo (whose own extensive background in the circus and Teatro de Revista lent them
the slapstick skills with which to perform their pantomime convincingly). The
embedded fantasy, meanwhile, allows Verdura to elaborate the full extent of his social
class anxiety, another common theme in Chaplins lms, while his throwback attire and
silent lm affectations brand him as a character out of place in 1950s Brazil.
In another memorable scene, Lewgoy and Oscarito perform screen tests as Paris
and Helen of Troy, respectively. Both Oscarito and Grande Otelo frequently cross-
dressed in .|o.|o1o in ways that stressed their inability to imitate hegemonic models
of drama and romance.
6
In co.oo! +!o.1o, the transvestite spectacle underscores the
mismatch between the pretentious studio heads plans to emulate heavy-handed
Hollywood super-productions (such as Cecil B. DeMilles :oc o1 .!.!o|, itself the
butt of another .|o.|o1o called :. :ooc :. .!.!o|) and the comparative strengths
of Brazilian lmmaking. Both Count Verdura and Professor Xenofontes represent, in
caricaturesque fashion, superannuated and incongruous modes of /.o.!.1o1..
Such undesirable images of national identity are not restricted to co.oo!
+!o.1o. In spite of its ostensible setting in the Old West, for example, Carlos
Mangas Moo. co .c.... (1954), a parody of u.| :cc, comically foregrounds the
Brazilian qualities of its main characters, two accidental gunghters played by Oscarito
and Grande Otelo. Horse-rustling o!o1.c, the two nd their fortune in City Down
after Oscaritos character defeats the town villain in a game of cards even though, in
classic Chaplinesque style, he does everything he can to lose, fearing his own death at
the hands of Jesse Gordon (played with deadpan aplomb by Lewgoy). Cowardly, rather
effeminate, chatty and opportunistic, Kid Bolha is the antithesis of Gary Coopers
strong-and-silent characterization of the courageous, principled Marshal Will Kane.
Indeed, Oscaritos Bolha is perhaps even more out of place in City Down than
Chaplins Tramp in the Alaskan frontier town of 1|. cc!1 ro|, a mismatch that only
adds to the comic effect of this Brazilian copy of another Hollywood original.
7
Moo.
T HE P ARADI GM OF I MI T AT I ON 2 8 1
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

co .c....s denouement, in which a victorious Oscarito and Grande Otelo accidently
kiss, only serves to accentuate the lms sly brand of parody. The mixed-race,
homoerotic embrace mocks u.| :ccs Cold-War orthodoxy. Indeed, the .|o.|o1os
take on the iconic 1950s Western is spatially o1 temporally at odds with the
Hollywood template. The lms relatively rudimentary visual style and its main actors
slapstick technique draw heavily from an anachronistic lm vocabulary, thus Moo. co
.c.... constitutes an imitation that is at once out of place and out of season.
As John King has pointed out, Atlantidas commercial success was explicitly at
odds with more serious, higher-budget studios, such as MGM and, closer to home,
the Sao Paulo-based company Vera Cruz (King 2000: 57).
8
In the end, Atlantidas
ultimate meta-picture (co.oo! +!o.1o) plays not just as a parody of the expensive
pretensions of the Brazilian upper class and moralistic hypocrisy of Hollywood, but
rather, conversely, as a justication for the companys customary focus on vulgar
forms such as carnival and samba as a cinematic language better suited to national
economic needs and cultural sensibilities. The function of the lms Chaplinesque
scenes is, therefore, an ambiguous one. On one hand, much of the pictures parodic
vocabulary is derived from the popular traditions that sustained silent comedy
traditions like the circus, .o.o and .o.c 1. ...o that had by the 1940s begun to wane
in both Mexico and Brazil.
9
By the same token, however, Burles send-up of
Hollywood does not spare Chaplin himself or at least those (like the Count) who
seek to emulate the Tramp. In an important sense, therefore, co.oo! +!o.1o does
not so much target Hollywood itself as it does Hollywoods imitators, specically its
Brazilian imitators without, however, pretending to place itself entirely outside the
paradigm it criticizes.
Conclusions
The fact that Atlantida studios produced lms like co.oo! +!o.1o in the rst place is
an indication of the peculiar tensions within the Brazilian lm industry of the period.
While Vera Cruz no doubt felt pressures much like those borne by the ctitious Cec lio
B. de Milho, the more commercially solvent (and enduring) Atlantida justied its
rejection of ambitious high-budget lmmaking, in effect, by lambasting the
competition for being falsely patriotic. In Mexico, Mario Moreno and German Valdes
could afford to take more oblique swipes at Hollywood as Tin Tan does in i!
oo/o1c thanks to international stardom that to some extent insulated the two stars
from the need to make grand protectionist gestures. The quasi-homage qualities of i!
....c, i! oo/o1c and Demares c|.c!c bespoke a tendency to praise Chaplin as if his
oo.o. status fully spared him from the ideological machinery of Hollywood talkies. As
co.oo! +!o.1o reveals, however, Chaplin was at best only a partial metonymy of
Hollywood, particularly by the 1950s. With its ruthless mockery of Hollywood
affectations, moreover, the pivotal .|o.|o1o exposes the underlying nostalgia at work
in other previous Chaplin tributes, even as the lm advocates a style of cinema rooted
in the vocabulary of the popular stage and silent comedy favored by the likes of
Chaplin: broad physical comedy laced with parody and touches of melodrama.
Nelly Richard has pointed out that contemporary Latin America is a culture of
imitation [ . . . ] educated in the tradition of falsity and fakery. Latin Americans, she
L AT I N AME RI CAN CUL T URAL S T UDI E S 2 8 2
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

writes, have learned to do without the auratic cult of hegemonic models and instead
to play illusorily with the reection of parodic doubles (Richard 1989: 56). In this
sense, mid-20th-century replays of Chaplin double as previews of coming attractions.
Nudged by legal threat to take cinematic imitation beyond the realm of mere
impersonation, actors and lmmakers nevertheless continued to work and to play
illusorily within the paradigmatic structure of imitation, revealing the tensions and
contradictions inherent in modern Latin American cultural practices.
As I have suggested, Chaplinesque Latin American lm comedies of the 1940s and
1950s regularly relied on Hollywood tropes, local stock gures and popular traditions,
while proposing a critical revision of such practices as an integral part of their homage.
Such lms broadened the framework of imitation to encompass both passively
subordinate representations and also subversive mimicry, often simultaneously. While
they should be seen, of course, as disparate products of national lm industries rather
than the fruits of any coordinated hemispheric project, the pictures examined in this
essay frequently cast doubt on the notion that Hollywood constituted a purely
hegemonic imposition on Latin America. In fact, the Chaplin blueprint often served as
a platform for a critique of slavish imitations of US industries, manners and mores, and
particularly of the passive mimetic conformity of local Creole elites. In so doing, these
comedies spun narratives more in tune with new critical ideologies than with
imperatives of international capitalism. Even as they stressed the symbolic distance
between Hollywood and the national industries of Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, such
increasingly diffuse imitations took aim at models they ostensibly emulated, revealing
the limits of classical Hollywoods universal applicability by turning the weight of
mimesis against the very lm industry from which Chaplin emerged. These lms thus
show how the paradigm of imitation powerfully shaped a diverse array of popular
models, critical perspectives and political strategies.
Notes
1 Mariategui was not the only Latin American writer of his generation to struggle to
come to terms with Chaplins global signicance, which inspired such intellectuals as
Mario de Andrade, Xavier Abril, Luis Felipe Rodr guez, Roberto Arlt, Enrique
Gonzalez Rojo, and Carlos Drummond de Andrade, among others. For a more
extensive treatment of the Latin American vanguards critical assessment and creative
appropriation of Chaplin and his work, see Chapter Four of Jason Borge, to. +....o
P.... o1 |. r.. c uc!!,cc1 c..o (Routledge, 2008).
2 As Tina Chen has observed in her study co/!. +..,, imposture and impersonation,
though qualitatively different hermeneutic practice[s . . . ,] do not always result in
qualitatively different kinds of acts (Chen 2005: 9).
3 For an insightful analysis of the question of work and labor in Chaplins c.o.., see
Charles Mussers Work, Ideology and Chaplins Tramp, rst published in ro1..o!
u.c., r... 41 (Spring 1988), 3766.
4 Drawing largely from the memoirs of Jose Podesta notable clown and co-author of
the stage adaptation of Eduardo Gutierrezs popular novel joo Mc....o Ana Cara-
Walker writes that Jeronimo Podesta (Joses brother and fellow actor) one day
improvised a scene between himself and a Calabrese stagehand named Antonio
Cocoliche. Soon after, another actor, Celestino Petray, appropriated Antonio
T HE P ARADI GM OF I MI T AT I ON 2 8 3
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

Cocoliches speech and mannerisms and applied them to a scripted character,
Francisco, who soon became known as Cocoliche (Cara-Walker 1987: 4243).
5 Lewgoys role, however, is most likely modeled after the famous scene in Mc1.. 1..
when the Tramp is released from prison and wishes to start anew as a bourgeois.
6 One of Oscarito and Grande Otelos most famous scenes together, for example, was
their failed turn as Romeo and Juliet (respectively) in co.oo! c tcc (dir. Watson
Macedo, 1949). Jeffrey M. Pilcher, meanwhile, points out that Cantinass frequent
cross-dressing in early lms like +

o.!o c c! faded as his celebrity grew in the 1940s, the


actor [contenting] himself with mocking the extremes of masculine posturing (Pilcher
2001: 213). As for Tin Tan, one of i! oo/o1cs pivotal scenes features the
eponymous vagabond disguised as a drunkard knife-throwers female aide, who is being
held captive.
7 Stephanie Dennison and Lisa Shaw have noted that a parallel between Moo. co .c.... and
Chaplins Mc1.. 1.. can be found in both lms visual use of clocks as symbols of
oppressive modernity (2004: 125n). In Moo. co .c...., Oscaritos Kid Bolha gives u.|
:ccs clock motif a twist by pusillanimously trying to turn back time fteen minutes in
order to avoid his obligatory showdown with the cruel gunghter Jesse Gordon.
8 King notes that, beginning in the late 1940s, Atlantida could claim to have replicated on
a much smaller scale the vertical integration introduced by the Hollywood studios.
Middle-class critics, however, were generally not impressed with the studios low-
brow Rio-based, argot-ridden, entertainment, a sentiment that, King suggests, led to
the foundation of Vera Cruz studios in 1949 (2000: 57).
9 Another important and somewhat under-examined gateway to Latin American
comedies was popular theater. The Arcady Boytler directed +

o.!o c c! (1938) and


Atlantida studios rst picture Mc!.o. 1.oc (1943), for example, starring Cantinas and
Grande Otelo respectively, were highly biographical in that they chronicled their stars
rough-and-tumble apprenticeships in the .o.o and .o.c 1. ...o.
References
Barthes, Roland. 1982. M,|c!c... Translated by Annette Lavers. New York: Hill and
Wang.
Bean, Jennifer M. 2010. The Art of Imitation: The Originality of Charlie Chaplin and
Other Moving-Picture Myths. In :!o..| cc.1,, edited by Tom Paulus, and Rob
King, 23661. New York: Routledge.
Bhabha, Homi. 2004. 1|. tc.o.c c co!o... London: Routledge.
Cara-Walker, Ana. 1987. Cocoliche: The Art of Assimilation and Dissimulation among
Italians and Argentines. to. +....o r..o..| r... 22 (3): 3767.
co.oo! +!o.1o. DVD. Directed by Jose Carlos Burle. Atlantida Cinematograca. 1952.
Chen, Tina. 2005. co/!. +.., +. c i..co.c . +.o +....o t...oo.. o1 co!o...
Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
c|.c!c. DVD. Directed by Lucas Demare. Pampa Film. 1940.
i! ....c. DVD. Directed by Miguel M. Delgado. Posa Films. 1943.
Davalos Orozco, Federico. 1990. Carlos Amador: El Chaplin mexicano. ic!..o..o r..o
1. c.. 6: 824.
L AT I N AME RI CAN CUL T URAL S T UDI E S 2 8 4
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

Decherney, Peter. 2011. Gag Orders: Comedy, Chaplin and Copyright. In Mc1... o1
cc,..|, edited by Paul K. Saint-Amour., 13554. New York: Oxford University
Press.
De la Campa, Roman. 1999. to. +....o.. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Dennison, Stephanie, and Lisa Shaw. 2004. tco!o. c..o . i.o.!, :v+2:.
Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Di Nubila, Domingo. 1998. to . c.o 1. c.c u.c..o 1.! ... o...c, i i1...c o.oo!..o1o ,
o!.o1o. Buenos Aires: Jilguero.
Duran, Javier. 2002. Nation and Translation: The Pachuco in Mexican Popular Culture:
German Valdezs Tin Tan. 1|. jco.o! c |. M.1. Mc1.. tooo. +c..o.c 35
(2): 419.
i! oo/o1c. DVD. Directed by Rogelio A. Gonzalez and Gilberto Mart nez Solares. Mier
y Brooks. 1953.
Garc a Canclini, Nestor. 1995. u,/..1 co!o.. :.o... c. i... o1 t.o. Mc1...,.
Translated by Christopher L. Chiappari and Silvia L. Lopez. Minneapolis: University
of Minnesota Press.
Garc a Riera, Emilio. 1992. u.c..o 1c.o.o! 1.! ... ...oc, i, :v2v:v+.
Guadalajara: Universidad de Guadalajara.
Glenn, Susan A. 1998. Give an Imitation of Me: Vaudeville Mimics and the Play of the
Self. +....o oo...!, 50 (1): 4776.
King, John. 2000. Mo..o! r..! + u.c., c c..o . to. +....o. London: Verso.
Mariategui, Jose Carlos. 2005. Esquema de una explicacion de Chaplin. In +o.. 1.
uc!!,cc1 c. ..o ...oc.o.o . to.co. ...o, :v::v., edited by Jason
Borge., 16773. Rosario: Beatriz Viterbo.
Mart n-Barbero, Jesus. 1993. Debate. Trans. Jody Gillett. 1.o..o 1 (3): 15660.
Mo.. co .c..... DVD. Directed by Carlos Manga. Atlantida Cinematograca. 1954.
Monsivais, Carlos. 1997. M...o tc.o.1. Translated by John Kraniauskas. London:
Verso.
Pellettieri, Osvaldo. 2001. Sandrini a la fusion de la risa y el llanto. In . 1cc o :o1... 1.!
.c..c .o!.oc o! o.c. o..co! o...c, edited by Osvaldo Pellettieri., 17990.
Buenos Aires: Galerna.
Pellettieri, Osvaldo. 2008. i! o... , .! .c..c ...c!!c 1.! ooc. o! o.c.. Buenos Aires:
Galerna.
Pilcher, Jeffrey. 2001. co.o o1 |. c|oc c M...o Mc1...,. Wilmington, DE:
Scholarly Resources.
Ram rez, Gabriel. 1989. c.c..o 1.! ... o1c ...oc. Mexico City: Cineteca Nacional.
Ramos, Samuel. 1934. i! ..! 1.! |c/.. , !o .o!o.o . M. ..c. Mexico City: Imprenta
Mundial.
Richard, Nelly. 1989. to ..o..o..c 1. !c o... c/.. o.., .o!o.. , c! ..o. Santiago
de Chile: Francisco Zegers.
Seigel, Micol. 2000. Cocoliches Romp: Fun with Nationalism at Argentinas Carnival. 1|.
.oo r... 44 (2): 5683.
1|. c...o. DVD. Directed by Charles Chaplin. Charles Chaplin Productions/United
Artists. 1928.
1|. cc!1 ro|. DVD. Directed by Charles Chaplin. Charles Chaplin Productions/United
Artists. 1925.
Vaidovits, Guillermo. 1989. i! ... o1c . coo1o!oo.o. Guadalajara: Universidad de
Guadalajara.
T HE P ARADI GM OF I MI T AT I ON 2 8 5
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3

Jason Borge is an Associate Professor of Latin American Literature and Culture at the
University of Texas at Austin. His teaching and scholarship focus on encounters
between popular culture, literature and cinema in the Americas. He has published two
books documenting and analyzing the early impact of Hollywood on Latin American
intellectuals: Avances de Hollywood: Cr tica cinematograca en Latinoamerica, 19151945
(Beatriz Viterbo, 2005) and Latin American Writers and the Rise of Hollywood Cinema
(Routledge, 2008; paperback edition 2010).
L AT I N AME RI CAN CUL T URAL S T UDI E S 2 8 6
D
o
w
n
l
o
a
d
e
d

b
y

[
U
n
i
v
e
r
s
i
t
y

o
f

P
e
n
n
s
y
l
v
a
n
i
a
]

a
t

1
7
:
0
3

2
6

O
c
t
o
b
e
r

2
0
1
3