As professional clowns Tito and Simon are traveling, they happen upon an abandoned child, whom they take in and name Simonetta. When Simonetta is older, she becomes a circus performer herself. One day she is looking for roses, and climbs into the garden of Count Luigi Ravelli. The count becomes infatuated with her, but she leaves as soon as possible. Sometime later, Ravelli consults a doctor about his fits of uncontrollable laughter, and there he meets Tito, who has come to seek help for his fits of uncontrollable weeping. The two decide to help each other, and they establish a friendship, but problems arise when they realize that they are both in love with Simonetta.Written by
I recently viewed this film on TCM for the second time, and I enjoyed it even more. True, the fact that Chaney is in love with a teenager which he raised from a child is somewhat disturbing, but I think Chaney's portrayal in the film shows that he is aware of the inappropriateness of his love, however, he is unable to stop it. I particularly enjoyed the conflict Chaney experiences between his role as a performer and his needs as a human being. He displays a touching sense of obligation, stoicism, and vulnerability that only a master actor such as himself could manage. The final scene where he has fallen is absolutely heart wrenching, especially when he says, "I am an old man" as if he only realizes it for the first time. Complete with a wonderful new score, I would recommend this film for any fan of silent films, or just great acting in general. Long live Chaney!
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