The Circus (1928)

Director:  Charles Chaplin
Cast:  Charles Chaplin, Merna Kennedy, Al Ernest Garcia
Plot:  The Tramp finds work and the girl of his dreams at a circus.

Genre:  Comedy / Romance
Awards:  Honorary Academy Award for Charles Chaplin
Runtime:  71min
Rating:  PG

In the silent film era, nothing beats Charles Chaplin in top form.  Directed, produced, written, and acted by the grand master of pantomime, The Circus is a short and neat film that ranks highly in the list of Chaplin's masterpieces which includes Modern Times (1936) and The Great Dictator (1940) amongst many others. 

However, The Circus is often forgotten by most because it was released between two landmark Chaplin pictures - The Gold Rush (1925) and City Lights (1931) in 1928.  But that doesn't imply that it is the lesser of Chaplin's best works.

The Circus is wonderfully entertaining, and at times comically suspenseful.  The screenplay is a mark of brilliance by Chaplin just as the character he created - The Tramp, is one of cinema's most unforgettable.  One can expect a rip-roaring hour of overboard comicality and silly humor.  Although everyone is likely to remember Chaplin as the best laughing stock ever to be put on screen, he excels just as remarkably in moments of drama.

One shot sees Chaplin locked in an enclosure with a sleeping lion, another sees him stumbling on a tightrope; his passion for entertaining viewers is tremendously echoed in these death-defying scenes.  The Circus may run only at a scrawny 71 minutes, but every second is a joy.  It's one of Chaplin's most overlooked films, however it's also one of his most highly imaginative and hysterically consistent. 


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