A King in New York

Watch A King in New York

"The King of Comedians!"
  • G
  • 1957
  • 1 hr 45 min
  • 7.0  (8,791)

A King in New York is a satirical comedy film from 1957 that was directed, written, and starred in by the legendary talent, Charlie Chaplin. The movie follows King Shahdov (played by Chaplin himself), a deposed monarch from a fictional European country who seeks refuge from a communist regime in the United States. The story starts when King Shahdov arrives in New York City with his young queen, Ann (Maxine Audley), and his young Prince (Dawn Addams). They settle in a luxurious penthouse apartment hoping to wait out their exile in comfort. However, with limited finances and no official diplomatic recognition, Shahdov has to turn to commercial work to earn a living. He becomes a spokesman for a popular tone-deaf children's product and gives lectures to university students on the evils of communism, despite having a secret admiration for their beliefs.

The viewers are taken through a series of comedic yet thought-provoking scenarios as the King and Queen try to find their footing in a new country while being in constant contact with suspicious FBI agents. They are also forced to confront the American way of life and come to grips with their prejudices, especially when they meet a young boy (Michael Chaplin) who lives on the streets.

As usual with Charlie Chaplin's films, there are plenty of slapstick set pieces, sight gags, and moments of pure hilarity. Still, the humor takes a back seat to the sharp social commentary featured throughout the film. Chaplin was never one to shy away from addressing topical issues, be they political or social, and A King in New York is no exception.

The movie's central theme revolves around the dangers of McCarthyism, where anyone suspected of being a communist sympathizer was labeled as un-American and blacklisted from employment. Chaplin himself was never shy of expressing his left-wing beliefs, and it cost him dearly in the United States. He was eventually exiled from the country, never to return, making A King in New York all the more poignant.

The film's final act is perhaps the most striking, where King Shahdov's real inner beliefs are exposed, and his character arc comes full circle. The ending of the movie, while not entirely unexpected, is moving and has a surprising twist that still resonates with viewers today.

In terms of performances, Charles Chaplin is, as always, brilliant as the lead character, King Shahdov. He delivers a surprisingly subtle, nuanced performance that is both funny and moving, a testament to his unmatched talent as an actor. Maxine Audley is also impressive as the young queen who is put in an awkward position throughout the movie, with Jerry Desmonde's portrayal of Shahdov's loyal lawyer, Jaques, providing some welcome comic relief.

A King in New York was not as commercially successful as some of Chaplin's earlier films, mainly because of the controversial topic he choose to tackle. It was also one of his more personal films, as he addresses issues that directly affected him, making it a more challenging sell to an audience that was more used to his earlier, more slapstick-oriented movies.

Despite this, A King in New York remains an essential piece of work in Charlie Chaplin's oeuvre. It showcases his unshakable commitment to free speech, his willingness to challenge the status quo, and his incisive wit, and it stands the test of time as a perceptive commentary on the dangers of stifling dissent and the importance of remaining true to oneself.

In conclusion, A King in New York is a must-watch for fans of Charlie Chaplin's films, as well as anyone interested in political satire and social commentary. Although it may not be as well-known as some of his other films, it is a deeply personal and thought-provoking work that remains as relevant today as it did when it was released over sixty years ago.

A King in New York is a 1957 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 45 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.0.

A King in New York
Where to Watch A King in New York
A King in New York is available to watch, stream, download and on demand at Amazon Prime and Max. Some platforms allow you to rent A King in New York for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 45 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.0  (8,791)