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The Circus is generally considered to be a lesser Charlie Chaplin effort, coming as it does between two unquestioned masterpieces, The Gold Rush (1925) and City Lights (1931). To be sure, the film is not one of Chaplin's best, but it has a lot going for it. Director Chaplin casts star Chaplin in his traditional "Little Tramp" role, who when first we see him is on the lam from the law. He takes refuge under the tent of a failing circus. Unintentionally, Charlie disrupts the show's big clown act, and the crowd roars. The ringmaster decides to hire Charlie as a clown, building the whole circus around him. Charlie has many an adventure and close shave while performing under the Big Top, the best of which involves a tightrope, a broken support wire, and a playful monkey. The standard Chaplin pathos rears its head when Charlie falls in love with pretty tightrope walker Merna Kennedy. When sweet Merna chooses handsome Harry Crocker, Charlie is left alone once more--but, with a characteristic shrug, he shuffles into the horizon and onto his next adventure. The Circus has several gaping logic holes which tend to pull the film down (we're supposed to believe, for example, that Charlie is unaware that he's a sensation as a clown, even after several weeks of performing before appreciative audiences), but the film contains several excellent setpieces, including a Hall of Mirrors sequence which anticipates Orson Welles' more serious Lady From Shanghai climax by twenty years. The Circus won Chaplin a special Oscar in 1928, then lay unseen for forty-two years; it was reissued in 1970, with a new musical score by Chaplin himself (who can be heard singing the theme song in the opening scenes). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
All-new digital transfer from Chaplin family vault picture and audio element
Soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as original mono
Subtitles: English, Français, Español, Português, Chinese, Thai & Korean
Introduction by David Robinson: Chaplin's biographer discusses the historical and cinematic context of the film (6 mins.)
Chaplin Today: The Circus - documentary by François Ede with the participation of the award-winning director Emir Kusturica (26 mins.)
Deleted sequence: Chaplin, the bareback rider and the tightrope walker go on an accident-filled dinner date (10 mins.)
October 7-13, 1926: outtakes from a week of shooting on The Circus (26 mins.)
Mountbatten home movies: three home movies from the archives of Lord Louis Mountbatten - Chaplin on the set of The Circus; Chaplin visits Douglas Fairbanks on the set of The Gaucho; The Sacrifice, an improvised comedy shot on a beach, with Chaplin as King of a South Sea island (7 mins.)
The Hollywood premiere (1928): reportage of the star-studded premiere of The Circus in Los Angeles (6 mins.)
Camera A, Camera B: shots made simultaneously from the two cameras consistently used in shooting The Circus (1 min.)
3-D test footage by Roland Totheroh: a 3-D experiment by Chaplin's chief cameraman (2 mins.)
Circus Day With Jackie Coogan - excerpts: the young co-star of The Kid plays the lead in this adaptation of a favorite children's book about the adventures of little Toby Tyler in a traveling circus (12 mins.)
Side #1 -- The Film, 1. Directed by Charlie Chaplin [1:33], 2. The Empty Circus [2:01], 3. The Wallet [2:57], 4. Mirror Maze [3:25], 5. The Funny Man [3:40], 6. A Job [5:21], 7. William Tell [3:12], 8. The Barber-Shop Act [4:12], 9. The Circus Rider [2:21], 10. Prof. Bosco [3:49], 11. The Same Hard Life [2:21], 12. The Lion [3:45], 13. The Pole [3:02], 14. Fortune-Telling [4:34], 15. I Don't Like Tightrope Walkers [3:34], 16. His New Ambition [1:16], 17. A New King of the Air [5:23], 18. On the Rope [5:44], 19. That Night [2:36], 20. The Next Morning [3:38]