Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Circus (1928 film)




Directed, edited, and starring Charles Chaplin and written by Chaplin and Joseph Plunkett, The Circus is the story of a ringmaster of a lowly circus who hires the Tramp to be a clown as he becomes a hit of the show by accident. The film is a comedy that has Chaplin being the Tramp character as a man who once again bumbles into his situation while dealing with the world he’s in. Also starring Al Ernest Garcia, Merna Kennedy, and Henry Bergman. The Circus is a delightful film from Charles Chaplin.

The film is a simple story of the Tramp who stumbles himself into a struggling circus during a chase where he’s accused of being a pickpocket. During his encounter with this circus, its ringmaster decides to have him be part of the act while making sure the Tramp be oblivious to what is happening as he is working as a property man. Yet, he befriends a bareback horse rider whose stepfather is the ringmaster who treats her cruelly as he tries to do whatever it takes to help her as he would also contend for her heart against a tightrope walker. It’s a film that doesn’t require anything complicated though Charles Chaplin and Joseph Plunkett do use a traditional structure to play into the Tramp’s involvement with the circus. Yet, does use inter-title cards to play into the evolution of the Tramp’s performances in the circus as well as his relationship with the circus rider (Merna Kennedy).

Chaplin’s direction is truly mesmerizing for the images he makes that includes some very dazzling scenes set at a fun house where the Tramp is being chased by a cop where it involves a room of mirrors and the Tramp pretending to be a prop at the fun house. It’s among these very lively moments in the film where Chaplin uses his approach to pantomime and physical comedy to great lengths as well as the scenes in the circus where he knows how to perform the comedy naturally. Through his own editing, Chaplin also finds way to time the humor as well as some of the romance as the Tramp tries to win the heart of the circus rider while dealing with the cruel ringmaster (Al Ernest Garcia). Through his use of wide and medium shots, Chaplin always find ways to create some amazing scenes that would include some very suspenseful moments of the Tramp trying to do the tightrope in his own funny way. Overall, Chaplin creates a very funny and entertaining film about a man who unknowingly becomes a circus performer.

Cinematographer Roland Totheroh does excellent work with the film‘s black-and-white photography from the look of many of the film‘s daytime exterior scenes as well what goes on inside the circus. Production designer Charles D. Hall does fantastic work with the set pieces such as the circus tent and its trailers along with some of the props like the magician‘s table and such. The film’s music by Charles Chaplin, from its 1969 re-release, is superb for its sumptuous orchestral score that ranges from humorous to somber with all sorts of unique instruments including a song that Chaplin sings to open the film to play into the circus rider’s melancholia.

The film’s brilliant cast includes some notable small roles from Henry Bergman as an old clown, Steve Murphy as the pickpocket, George Davis as the magician, Tiny Sandford as the head property man, and Harry Crocker in a trio of performances as a clown, a disgruntled property man, and as the tightrope walker Rex. Casting director Al Ernest Garcia is terrific as the very cruel ringmaster who abuses his stepdaughter while trying to make money off of the Tramp’s hard work in the circus. Merna Kennedy is wonderful as the circus rider as a young woman who deals with the abuse of her stepfather while finding a hero in the Tramp. Finally, there’s Charles Chaplin in a phenomenal performance as the Tramp where he maintains that great sense of physicality in his comedy while allowing the Tramp to be the guy that audiences can root for.

The Circus is a marvelous film from Charles Chaplin as it is definitely one of his funniest comedies. Even as it plays into the world of the circus as well as showcasing a bit of melancholia over the sense of hopelessness that goes on in the circus. In the end, The Circus is a sensational film from Charles Chaplin.

Charles Chaplin Films: (Twenty Minutes of Love) - (Caught in the Rain) - (A Busy Day) - (Her Friend the Bandit) - (Mabel’s Married Life) - (Laughing Gas) - (The Face On the Bar Room Floor) - (Recreation) - (The Masquerader) - (His New Profession) - (The Rounders) - (The Property Man) - (The New Janitor) - (Those Love Pangs) - (Dough & Dynamite) - (Gentlemen of Nerve) - (His Musical Career) - (His Trysting Place) - (Getting Acquainted) - (His Prehistoric Past) - (His New Job) - (A Night Out) - (The Champion) - (In the Park) - (A Jitney Elopement) - (The Tramp) - (By the Sea (1915 film)) - (His Regeneration) - (Work (1915 film) - (A Woman) - (The Bank) - (Shanghaied) - (A Night in the Snow) - (Burlesque on Carmen) - (Police (1916 film)) - (Triple Trouble) - (The Floorwalker) - (The Fireman) - (The Vagabond) - (One A.M. (1916 film)) - (The Count) - (The Pawnshop) - (Behind the Screen) - (The Rink) - (Easy Street) - (The Cure (1917 film)) - (The Immigrant (1917 film)) - (The Adventurer) - A Dog’s Life - (The Bond) - Shoulder Arms - Sunnyside - A Day’s Pleasure - (The Professor) - The Kid - The Idle Class - (Pay Day) - The Pilgrim - A Woman of Paris - The Gold Rush - City Lights - Modern Times - The Great Dictator - Monsieur Verdoux - Limelight - A King in New York - (A Countess from Hong Kong)

© thevoid99 2014

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