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Circus, the

Charles Chaplin , Merna Kennedy , Charles Chaplin    Unrated   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 99.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Made in 1928 while he was in the middle of a painful divorce case, Charlie Chaplin's The Circus was so associated with bad memories for its maker that he refused even to mention it in his 1964 autobiography. Consequently, it has enjoyed less of a reputation than such films as The Gold Rush (1925) and City Lights (1931). However, while it's not quite in their league, The Circus undoubtedly deserves to be rescued from relative obscurity.

Here, Chaplin's Tramp is taken on as a clown at the circus, having been chased into the big tent by a policeman wrongly suspected of theft and wowing the audience with his pratfalls. He falls in love with the ill-treated ringmaster's daughter (Merna Kennedy) but is swiftly rivaled by a new addition to the circus, a handsome tightrope walker. To try to win back her affections, the Tramp himself attempts the same act, culminating in the best sequence of the film, when he is assailed by monkeys as he totters amateurishly and precariously along a rope suspended high in the tent. Although The Circus is marred by the rather hackneyed and (even in 1928) stale melodramatic device of the cruel father and imploring daughter, it scores high on its slapstick content, with routines involving a hall of mirrors and a mishap with a magician's equipment demonstrating Chaplin's dazzling ability to choreograph apparently improvised mayhem. --David Stubbs

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Problematic Chaplin Aug. 13 1999
Format:VHS Tape
"The Circus" is a decidedly strange effort from Charlie Chaplin. His last silent film focuses on the aspect of a clown's success and failure -- a theme that worked to better advantage in Chaplin's "Limelight." There are a few highlights, particularly the classic funhouse chase, yet the overall movie seems forced and a bit too melodramatic. No wonder Chaplin kept "The Circus" out of circulation for more than 40 years -- he knew it was lacking. The same goes for the accompanying two-reeler, "A Day's Pleasure," which is one of the Chaplin's weakest shorts and a significant comedown from his groundbreaking work at Mutual. In retrospect, neither film shows Chaplin at his absolute best.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite of all Chaplin films March 22 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Of all the films I've watched of Charlie Chaplin this has got to be my most favorite comedy of his and definitly needs to be saved from obscurity . It's both a drama and comedy and has lots of pantomime and slapstick . The story goes like this , Charlie goes to the circus and is mistaken for a pickpocket . He tries to escape from the police by entering a mirror maze ( I wonder how Charlie pulled off this camera trick ) and pretends to be one of those mechanical dummies . He then gets chased into the big top where he causes a roar of laughter to the audience that has been bored out by the ringmasters so called entertainment . The ringmaster soon realizes that this tramp character is what he needs for his circus so he gives him a trial and lets Charlie show off his funny`material which to the ringmaster is not funny. The only time the tramp is funny is when he tries not to be so the ring master hires Charlie to be a property with pretty good results . The tramp falls in love with the ringmaster's abused step daughter . Merna( the ringmaster's stepdaughter ) soon finds love with the circus's new attraction Rex the " King of Air " a.k.a. tightrope walker . The movie is very funny and is filled with gags such as Charlie on the tightrope being harrassed by monkeys pulling his pants down , biting his nose , and sticking their tails in his mouth . What's really interesting about this scene is that when you look at the expression on his face it's pretty sad , its charlie struggling through his perosonal life . He can't escape from all this trouble just like he could'nt escape from his divorce with his second wife Lita grey , his money problems , his mother's death and problems with stage fires all during the making of this film . Read more ›
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By Nix Pix
The Circus is one of those slapstick comedy classics that is so charming in its reverence to "the Big Top" that it transcends time with each and every viewing. Chaplin is, of course, fleeing the police yet again and this time his escape leads him to a circus where he easily becomes one of the funniest acts.
TRANSFER: Warner/MK2 give us a beautifully rendered B&W picture that, although showing signs of age related wear and tear, nevertheless enthralls in each and every frame. Film grain is kept to a minimum. Blacks - for the most part, are deep and solid. The gray scale is nicely balanced. Occasionally there is some aliasing but it is minute and unobtrusive. The audio, as with all Chaplin movies, has been remastered to 5.1 with a nice spread across all 5 channels.
Extras:a documentary, deleted sequence, outtakes, three home movies, excerpts from "Circus Day" with Jackie Coogan, a photo gallery, film posters and trailers.
BOTTOM LINE: Another Chaplin classic to add to your growing film library!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Monkeys amuck = instant hilarity Jan. 6 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
There may be other Chaplin features that are subtler, more poignant, etc., but of the ones I've seen, "The Circus" is his flat-out funniest (ain't seed "The Kid" or "Modern Times," or "A Day's Pleasure," for that matter). Maybe that's because I saw it with a large and appreciative audience.
Perhaps Chaplin kept it out of circulation because the monkeys (who presumably improvised) were funnier than anything he could come up with on purpose. There are few images in cinema more priceless than (DON'T READ THIS IF YOU AIN'T SEEN IT) that monk wrapped around the Tramp's neck and gnawing on his nose as they swing back & forth on the trapeze.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lost love that was never truly found. Dec 21 1998
Format:VHS Tape
In this classic romantic comedy, Charlie stumbles upon a circus in which he finds employment through some silly bits of mishaps. Upon his inept and clumsy employment, he finds himself the saving grace of the floundering circus by accidentally becoming the hit comedy act and main audience draw. Meanwhile, he falls desperately in love with the beautiful equestrian who also happens to be the daughter of the abusive circus owner and ring master. Charlie has dreams of a wonderful life with her away from the circus until the reality of her heart's true desire is learned. A heart-wrenching story which displays the joy, the horror, and the grace of love.
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