In Hong Kong, the wealthy Ogden Mears is traveling in a transatlantic and is near to be assigned Saudi Arabia Ambassador and is divorcing from his wife Martha. His friend Harvey and he are ... See full summary »
Three Chaplin silent comedies "A Dog's Life", "Shoulder Arms", and "The Pilgrim" are strung together to form a single feature length film. Chaplin provides new music, narration, and a small... See full summary »
Chaplin's final American film tells the story of a fading music hall comedian's effort to help a despondent ballet dancer learn both to walk and feel confident about life again. The highlight of the film is the classic duet with Chaplin's only real artistic film comedy rival, Buster Keaton. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
Charlie Chaplin is one of the undisputed masters of the cinema. He was one of the funniest actors of the cinema, and he was also one of the greatest directors. Of course, the films that he is most famous for are his silent comedies, especially The Gold Rush, City Lights, and Modern Times. The latter two were the product of Chaplin's stubborn clinging to the format and conventions of the silent cinema, though everyone else had gone to sound. This stubbornness was certainly sound. His contemporaries such as Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd lost popularity when they moved to sound. Chaplin's last two silent films were popular and made a lot of money. Audiences may have craved sound, but they craved Chaplin, too, and did not disdain his silence. He was one of the silent artists who thought that they were just achieving the peak of their medium when sound came in. He proved himself right, since City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936) are probably his two best films, and both are two of the best films ever made.
Finally, in 1940, Chaplin directed and starred in his first talkie, The Great Dictator. Three more followed, Monsieur Verdoux, then Limelight, then King of New York, which happens to be the only one of these four I have not seen. The Great Dictator and Monsieur Verdoux were both good films in their own way, but perhaps Chaplin's in depth political commentary in these films detracted from them. The type of comedy that you find in his silent films did not mix well with this social commentary. The simple juxtapositions of the worlds of the poor and the rich in City Lights and Modern Times were far more powerful than what his first two talkies had to offer.
Then came Limelight, one of the most bittersweet films ever made. It is not perfect, but it achieves a grand melodramatic beauty that few films have ever even approached. The story is simple: a washed-up, old vaudvillian rescues a young ballet dancer from suicide. He takes care of her until she is healthy again, and even restores her confidence. The story may be simple, but the character dynamics are very complex. As the dancer, Theresa, is recovering, Calvero is not only rebuilding her confidence, but also his own. Theresa, because of his kindness towards her, finally believes she has fallen in love with him, even going so far as proposing marriage to him. Whether she actually loves him or not, and Calvero strongly asserts that she shouldn't and doesn't, these two characters have a constantly evolving relationship that does not end until the credits role. It is utterly fascinating, captivating, and dramatic.
There are a couple of problems, and though they're small, they deserve attention. Perhaps the biggest problem is that Claire Bloom is quite guilty of overacting. Her line delivery is bizarre and overdramatic. This isn't a big deal, since you ought to be keenly aware that the film takes place in the world of melodrama, and is thus exaggerated. Another thing that irked me is Buster Keaton's role. It is little more than a cameo. In fact, his character doesn't even have a name in the credits. This is truly disappointing, seeing that he, although Chaplin may have had the most heart, was the all-around funniest silent comedian.
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