A picture book for Chaplin fans

Charlie Chaplin, by Maurice Bessy. New York: Harper & Row. 438 pp. 1,090 photographs. $50. Maurice Bessy has created a picture palace of a book that captures the career of Charlie Chaplin. Gorgeous, resplendent, magnificent, and rich. Photos of the great clown from the age of 71/2 as a schoolboy at the Kinnington Road School in London to some shots of him directing his last film, ``A Countess from Hong Kong.''

In ``Charlie Chaplin'' Mr. Bessy has collected 1,090 photographs and given them interesting captions as well as some vividly written short chapters containing anecdotes, information, and insights.

Bessy says that Chaplin encouraged the taking of still photographs behind as well as in front of the movie camera. They give us an extra dimension for the appreciation of this great silent comedian. Pause over the faces in the backgrounds. The crowd scenes, the daffy dowagers, and vile villains are wonderful to behold.

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