The Circus (1928)


As promised, my critique of <>The Circus<>, one of Charlie Chaplin’s best films. Chaplin demonstrates his full slapstick and physical humor abilities, but also manages to create a strong story and a poignant ending. The story revolves around Chaplin’s Tramp character getting mixed up with a pickpocket scheme and having to allude the police. He is chased by a cop into the middle of a circus tent, where his “performance” is a huge hit to an otherwise lackluster and floundering show. Eventually, the proprieter (played by Al Garcia) decides to hire Chaplin. Chaplin agrees, mostly because he is smitted with the owner’s poorly treated step-daughter, played by Merna Kennedy. Chaplin tries to learn the routines of the clowns, but does so poorly, to hilarious results. In fact, it was a better show than what he was trying to learn, a fact the proprieter eventually picks up on. The film is very funny. You don’t have to be a fan of Chaplin, silent films, or old movies to appreciate this and laugh at the gags. It’s humor at its most basic, but it’s done very well and kept together by a solid script for a comedy. For example, the Circus hires Rex, a tight rope walker (played by Harry Crocker, who also had a few other roles in the film much like a Peter Sellers or an Eddie Murphy…he was also assistant director and unit publicist). The step daughter falls in love, much to the chagrin of Chaplin’s Tramp, who becomes sullen. It wasn’t necessary to include this kink, as the film was good before this, but it adds a little more dimension to the movie and leads in a path one might not expect in this style of film from early Hollywood. It’s a rule of thumb that most comedies end in marriage or at least a happily ever after relationship, but <>The Circus<> strays from this and concludes with a far more compelling ending. I highly recommend everyone check out <>The Circus<>. You won’t be disappointed (void where prohibited), and if this is your first Chaplin film, it will be a true treat.


  1. Sorry about missing Monday’s update, but I was super busy. You’re also going to have to wait for a review until tomorrow. In the meantime, be advised that the animation is (probably) a one time only gimmick. Tell your friends and loved ones.


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