The Circus

Released 1928


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Movie Summary

Charles Chaplin
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The Circus is a comedy about a down and out drifter who accidentally stumbles into a circus performance and, unbeknownst to him, becomes the hit of the show. Made in 1928, this silent, black and white movie stars and was written and directed by Charlie Chaplin. The Circus begins with a vagabond (Chaplin) being chased by the police, mistakenly suspected as a pickpocket and thief. When he unwittingly runs through the middle of the circus, his acrobatic and comedic performance woo the crowd. Seeing the positive reaction of the crowd, he is hired to the group as a clown, by the circus' ringmaster. As he becomes a luminary to the circus and a draw for the audiences, the tramp finds romantic interest in the ringmaster's daughter. Problems arise when a rival suitor, also from the circus, tries to thwart the tramp from pursuing the daughter. Although well received by critics and audiences, The Circus was mostly kept out of circulation, by Chaplin, for nearly 40 years. This film is a boarded up relic from a golden age, and includes some of Chaplin's most memorable comic sequences.moreless

Metacritic Score

  • 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Charlie Chaplin was a perfectionist in his films and a calamity in his private life. These two traits clashed as he was making The Circus, one of his funniest films and certainly t...

  • 100

    Slant Magazine

    It is Chaplin's great elegy to the lost art of music-hall pantomime and, for that matter, the soon-to-be lost art of silent-film comedy.

  • 88

    LarsenOnFilm Josh Larsen

    Mostly the movie registers as a comedy flag being planted, a claim being made. Anything your average clown could do, Chaplin could do better.

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Classics, Slapstick