When the Little Tramp (Charlie Chaplin – who else?!) is mistaken for a pickpocket and chased through the funfair by a policeman, he makes his escape into a circus tent and, to the delight of the bored audience, unintentionally becomes the hit of the show. When the Ringmaster offers him a job, the Tramp quickly accepts and endears himself to the Ringmaster's daughter (Merna Kennedy), a circus performer who is regularly mistreated by her sadistic father. Romance blossoms inside the Little Tramp's heart but he has serious obstacles to contend with, namely the handsome new tightrope walker (Harry Crocker) and a gang of escaped monkeys who attack the Little Tramp midway through his high-wire act (a brilliant and very funny set-piece). Will the Little Tramp get the girl? Will he make it down from the high-wire alive and still be wearing his trousers? And when you don't have an apple to put on your head for the William Tell act, will a half-eaten banana do instead? All these and many other questions will be answered before The Circus ends.
The Circus is Charlie Chaplin at his delightful best – a simple and endearing story wrapped around an ingenious cavalcade of sight gags and slapstick that is thankfully far less schmaltzy and sentimental than many of the Little Tramp’s better-known outings. Artificial Eye’s presentation of the movie is equally as excellent but sadly, apart from a brief but informative introduction from Chaplin biographer David Robinson, the other extras are uninspiring: there's a very brief outtakes reel, extracts from other films in Curzon’s Chaplin Collection and some rushes from The Circus that are continuous takes of the same scene (a scene that was ultimately deleted from the finished film) which, although briefly amusing, wears out its welcome very fast.
Still, it's the main attraction we came to see and The Circus won’t disappoint. This is classic Chaplin at the height of his riotous brilliance. If you enjoy Chaplin you’ll love The Circus.
Special Features: Introduction from David Robinson / Outtakes reel / Extracts from the Chaplin Collection / Deleted scenes
THE CIRCUS / CERT: U / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: CHARLIE CHAPLIN / STARRING: CHARLIE CHAPLIN, MERNA KENNEDY, AL ERNEST GARCIA, HARRY CROCKER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW