CHAPLIN COLLECTION: LIMELIGHT: DVD
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
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