Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Circus (1928)


In The Circus Charlie Chaplin yet again demonstrates just why he is one of the most talented people to ever live. Chaplin was recognized as such for his work writing, directing and producing this film by the first Academy Awards in 1929. They bestowed upon him and honorary award "For versatility and genius in acting, writing, directing and producing The Circus". Chaplin also wrote the score, and sang the title song in the 1969 re-release.

Chaplin stars as his trademark character The Tramp. The circus is currently in town, and The Tramp is visiting. While he is standing watching a side show a pickpocket is doing his work. When the pickpocket is confronted, he slips the stolen wallet and watch into The Tramp's pocket. Later on, when The Tramp notices is spending some of his newfound wealth the wallet's original owner shows up and attempts to have The Tramp arrested. The Tramp flees, and the police officer chases after him through the circus in a bout of hilarity which is so humorous that the Ring Master (Al Ernest Garcia) offers him a job.

Since The Tramp has no job and no money, he accepts the Ring Master's offer and sets up a tryout for the following morning. Unfortunately since The Tramp was not intending to be funny when he was fleeing the law, he fails miserably at his audition and the job offer is revoked. But when the disgruntled property men quit, the Ring Master must find someone quick and the only man around is The Tramp. However every time The Tramp goes on stage to bring out a prop he fails and ends up flopping around and the crowd goes nuts with laughter. The Tramp has no idea, but he is the big draw to the shows and the big moneymaker for the circus.

The Circus then continues with comedic genius as The Tramp steals the show, falls for the girl (Ring Master's abused step-daughter played by Merna Kennedy) and fights the boss. This is really one of Chaplin's most underrated films. I personally enjoyed it more so than City Lights and almost as much as Modern Times. I certainly don't consider myself a Chaplin expert, but this movie is great. He not only comes up with a wonderful story of love and sacrifice, but he sustains a great amount of humor throughout the picture that is sure to bring a smile to anyone's face young and old, and at only 68 minutes long it's a much better hour spent than say watching an episode of CSI: Miami. Overall 3.5/4 Stars Grade = A