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CHAPLIN COLLECTION: LIMELIGHT: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Calvero (Charlie Chaplin), a down and out music hall performer saves a young ballerina, Theresa (Claire Bloom), from suicide and in the process gets the chance to step into the limelight once again. Chaplin’s last American film.


Review by Andrew L. Urban:
White haired and without the trademark moustache of the Tramp, Chaplin pays tribute to the music hall era of his youth in this bitter sweet comedy drama. Set in London, it’s nostalgia with touches of his physical comedy, notably in the scene near the end of the film where he and his great comedic rival Buster Keaton do schtick on stage together. The routine is silent, with a piano and violin as the props, reinforcing the film’s backward glance at the old days of vaudeville. You’ll notice the lack of a laugh track for most of the routine, but the audience is remembered at the end. Shortly after this scene, Chaplin is giving advice to Theresa and says something about the “elegant melancholy of twilight”. The phrase could equally be applied to Limelight and his career at this point.

Chaplin shows he can act in talkies and deliver dialogue, but his persona is quite different to the classic Tramp. Still, the remains of the Tramp are everywhere, from his odd bits of business – like the beginning of the film when he comes home drunk – to the fading Calvero poster in his second floor bedroom, which has a footnote proclaiming him as Calvero Tramp Comedian.

Chaplin’s musical prowess is again highlighted on this score, which won the Oscar in 1972, the film being eligible for belated consideration because no Los Angeles theatre had previously shown the film. (If that doesn’t underline the provincialism - or self absorption - of the Oscars, nothing does.)

The transfer is superb, delivering picture and sound at a higher quality than it was ever enjoyed in its original outings.

Likewise, Disc two provides deeper insights and more background into the making of the film, starting with David Robinson’s five minute introduction. This is an edited summary of what he includes in his Chaplin biography (Chaplin His Life and Art, Penguin). In tandem with the 25 minute Chaplin Today, the disc carries enough information to satisfy the inquisitive. The latter includes rare news footage and incidentals.

For the totally devoted fan, home videos from the Chaplin family vaults in 1950 in the US and 1959 in London will be fascinating, although the novelty value soon wears off. Home videos are home videos, even of the Chaplins. The later footage is soaked in nostalgia, as Chaplin visits the streets of his youth in the slums.

There’s a rather sweet deleted scene (well, three scenes actually, but they join together) and a few other odds and ends that you would expect, including trailers and posters. The original score is also presented as an audio extra, rather well, too, with each cue separately marked, but playable continuously – rather like these Chaplin discs will be by his many new and old fans.

Published December 4, 2003


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THE CHAPLIN COLLECTION:
THE GOLD RUSH
THE GREAT DICTATOR
MODERN TIMES

THE KID
THE CIRCUS
CITY LIGHTS
MONSIEUR VERDOUX

YOU CAN BUY IT HERE

CHAPLIN COLLECTION: LIMELIGHT: DVD

CAST: Charlie Chaplin, Claire Bloom, Nigel Bruce, Buster Keaton, Sydney Chaplin

DIRECTOR: Charlie Chaplin

SCRIPT: Charlie Chaplin

RUNNING TIME: 138 minutes

PRESENTATION: B/W; 1.33:1 (4:3 full frame transfer); DD 5.1 (remastered)

SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc one: Limelight (digitally remastered and restored). Disc two: Introduction by David Robinson; Chaplin Today – Limelight; the family members in Limelight; home movies of the Chaplin family 1952 and 1959; audio track of the score; sections of Chaplin’s working text for the novel; excerpt from the unfinished The Professor (1919) with relevant scenes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros HV

DVD RELEASE: December 3, 2003







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