The Circus (1928)
Genre: Silent Comedy Family Drama Romance
Starring: Charlie Chaplin (The Gold Rush; Limelight), Merna Kennedy
Directed By: Charlie Chaplin (The Great Dictator; Modern Times)
Overview: When a tramp stumbles into the center ring, he becomes the hit of the show without even realizing it... and there's monkeys... oh and a girl.
Acting: Apparently this film did really well in theaters, but it was lost to the ages until Chaplin re-released it with a new score, written and sang by Chaplin himself. You may not recognize this as one of his best works, but I really have no idea why. I think it's a contender for top spot.
Cinematography: The hall of mirrors, the tightrope with monkeys who pull down the Tramp's pants, the cops running around, magicians and clowns. This is top quality work. One thing I did notice is Chaplin is not a fan of the close up shots. He only uses them from time to time, and you know, I like that, more scene is better, especially in this one.
Script: Some of the best pantomime I've ever seen. The intertitles are plentiful enough that you have your little safety net and don't have to think too hard. Too many intertitles slow down the natural flow of a scene, so good for Chaplin to express himself so well without them.
Plot: Once upon a time there was a bum. He tried to get a job, fell in love and tripped over everything, like magic shows, donkeys, lions, cops and even a high wire (don't forget the monkeys). Uh, then... You know what, fine there's very little plot, and it doesn't matter because kicking someone in the ass every scene is just as good.
Mood: Ass-kicking monkey-pants. That's the mood. If you like a nice comedy of errors with a bit of a love triangle thrown in, I can't recommend anything else that has a circus as the backdrop. I was crying this was so funny, and I was alone. Also, your kids won't leave this having an urge to get you to buy stupid little cards that have monsters on them. That's worth a lot.
Overall Rating: 90% (It's a Madhouse... A MADHOUSE!)
Aftertaste: No kidding, this movie is better than most of the crap that comes out of Hollywood. The company that Chaplin started, United Artists, along with Mary Pickford, D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks, is still considered an Art-House Studio. You may recognize such other obscure titles from their legacy as Capote, Apocalypse Now, Rain Man, and Rocky. Go Chaplin, buddy.