A King in New York (1957)

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Released 14-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Audio
Interviews-Crew-David Robinson
Featurette-Chaplin Today
Featurette-Mandolin Serenade
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The Chaplin Collection
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1957
Running Time 100:08
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (82:41) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Charles Chaplin
Attica Film Company
Warner Home Video
Starring Charles Chaplin
Maxine Audley
Jerry Desmonde
Oliver Johnston
Dawn Addams
Sid James
Joan Ingram
Michael Chaplin
John McLaren
Phil Brown
Harry Green
Robert Arden
Alan Gifford
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music Charles Chaplin
Eddy Marnay

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    When middle-European monarch King Shahdov (Charlie Chaplin) is deposed in a revolution, he makes his way to New York. Greeted as a celebrity, he moves into an expensive hotel. His Prime Minister absconds with the money Shahdov took from his homeland. Shahdov has grand plans for atomic power, now useless without the money to back them. But when he is lured into unknowingly appearing on a TV show by Ann Kay (Dawn Addams), he finds that he can make money from endorsements.

    On a visit to a boy's school, he meets Rupert (Michael Chaplin), a spoiled brat who spouts anti-war and anti-capitalist propaganda. Later meeting him in the street on a wintry day, the King takes Rupert under his wing, and thus gets involved when the boy's parents are accused of being Communists.

    This was Chaplin's second last film and his last starring role. The film shows the problems Chaplin had in production, with an unfamiliar crew and conditions that Chaplin was not used to. When I first saw the film many years ago, I thought it was pretty bad. On a second viewing, it seems to be not so bad after all, though it is certainly not one of Chaplin's best. The major problem is the script, which tries to send up American culture in the first half, but takes on too many targets. Some of these include advertising, widescreen movies, rock and roll, plastic surgery and the like. In the second half, it turns serious as the Communist witch hunts are targeted, obviously reflecting Chaplin's own experience in the early 1950s. As a consequence, the film was not released in the US until 1973.

    Despite his 67 years, Chaplin is still reasonably athletic, but most of the comedy is verbal or situational, and there is less of the graceful physical comedy that Chaplin excelled in. This is not a great film, and is still something of a disappointment from this filmmaker, but it holds up well compared to similar films of the era. The boy Rupert is played by Chaplin's own son, and he holds up reasonably well in the role.

    This film comes as part of a two disc set with A Woman of Paris, which is reviewed separately.

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Transfer Quality


    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, close to the original 1.37:1.

    The transfer is quite sharp. There is a good amount of detail visible throughout. Shadow detail, however, is poor due to the excessive contrast of the transfer, which renders dark shades, for example dark suits, quite black and lacking in any visible detail.

    This is a black and white film, and there is a good range of shades of grey in evidence, despite the problems with the contrast. I noticed no low level noise in the very dark blacks.

    There is no noticeable grain, which is concerning given that this is from a film source, though the clean-up has not led to any excessive noise reduction problems. Edge enhancement is quite noticeable throughout, while the expected aliasing is kept to a minimum. The fine vertical lines on the wall of the King's hotel room often lend themselves to the moire effect, such as at 5:40.

    There are slight variations in the brightness of frames, leading to a mild flickering, though this is almost invisible. Otherwise, there are no film artefacts visible on this very clean print.

    Subtitles are provided in numerous languages, with the English subtitles clear and readable in large white lettering with thick black outlines, and they seem to be close to the dialogue.

    This is an RSDL-formatted disc with the layer change at 82:41. This occurs when the King opens a door, and so is disruptive visually, though as this is a silent passage there is no gap in the audio.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The default audio track is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, with alternative 5.1 and German 2.0 tracks. I listened to the English 2.0 track and sampled the others.

    Dialogue is clear throughout. The audio in general is good. The original mono soundtrack is well transferred with no noticeable hiss or distortion. It is not as flat-sounding as some mono soundtracks I have heard. The 5.1 track is no improvement over the 2.0, with most of the audio still directed to the front speakers, and some of the music to the rears. I did not notice any subwoofer activity. The German track seems to have been recorded in a completely different acoustic and sounds quite strange.

    The music score is by Charlie Chaplin and is okay without being exceptional. It seems to fit the film well. There are several songs in the film, all written by Chaplin.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Featurette - Introduction (5:19)

    The usual introduction to the film by David Robinson, giving some context to what we see on screen. This one seems shorter than usual.

Featurette - Chaplin Today (26:33)

    One of the better entries in this series, this one was made by Jérôme de Missolz and features American director Jim Jarmusch pontificating on the film. It also has an interview with the mature Michael Chaplin, who speaks in subtitled French about the film and his relationship with his father.

Outtakes (17:31)

    Fourteen outtakes from the film, with the footage in the final film shown first, then with the excised footage in a paler shade of monochrome. Interesting to watch through once to see what Chaplin thought was unnecessary to be included in the final product. Unfortunately these can only be watched individually, as there is no option to play all of them.

Mandolin Serenade (2:42)

    A short promotional film of Chaplin conducting an orchestra playing this music from the film which was included in newsreels at the time.

Trailers (8:53)

    Three original trailers for the film. The first is Dutch, with titles and subtitles in that language but with English audio. The next is the lengthy German trailer with sequences dubbed in German. The last is a 1973 US trailer, which is in the worst condition of the three.

Photo Gallery (6:16)

    93 production and publicity stills.

Poster Gallery

    15 posters in various languages.

The Chaplin Collection (10:43)

    Trailers for the other releases in this collection.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This material has also been issued in other regions. The material was mastered for PAL release in Europe, and the NTSC versions were made from the PAL masters, not from the original prints, and as a consequence the Region 1 release suffers from motion blurring artefacts and cannot be recommended.

    An earlier Region 1 release, now out of print, contained both this film and A Woman of Paris on a single dual-layered disc, which I purchased to see the earlier film, and have not watched this transfer of the later film in full. This disc included a trailer and the Mandolin Serenade film as extras. The film is presented window-boxed to maintain the original aspect ratio, and from a brief sample of it, the transfer is lacking slightly in contrast and has numerous film artefacts. The new version seems better to me.


    Not one of Chaplin's best films by a long shot, this is reasonably entertaining on a second look. Recommended for completists or the curious.

    The video quality is good if not outstanding.

    The audio quality is good.

    Some nice extras are provided.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, August 16, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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