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Here, Chaplin's Tramp is taken on as a clown at the circus, having been chased into the big tent by a policeman wrongly suspected of theft and wowing the audience with his pratfalls. He falls in love with the ill-treated ringmaster's daughter (Merna Kennedy) but is swiftly rivalled by a new addition to the circus, a handsome tightrope walker. To try to win back her affections the Tramp attempts the same act, culminating in the best sequence of the film, when he is assailed by monkeys as he totters amateurishly and precariously along a rope suspended high in the tent.
Although The Circus is marred by the rather hackneyed and (even in 1928) stale melodramatic device of the cruel father and imploring daughter, it scores high on its slapstick content, with routines involving a hall of mirrors and a mishap with a magician's equipment demonstrating Chaplin's dazzling ability to choreograph apparently improvised mayhem.
On the DVD: The Circus features a generous trove of extras on this two-disc set, including extracts from Lord Mountbatten's home movies of Chaplin, a deleted scene involving a prankster prize-fighter, as well as original footage showing how the perfectionist Chaplin would shoot and reshoot scenes. An introduction from David Robinson explains the adverse circumstances which held up the shooting of The Circus, including a fire and gales, which destroyed the set, while a further documentary delves into Chaplin's earliest work to provide context for the film. On the first disc, the film itself is an excellent transfer. --David Stubbs
CHARLIE CHAPLIN THE ESSANAY FILMS VOLUME 2
Written, directed and starring Charlie Chaplin
In December 1914, Charlie Chaplin began his one-year contract with the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, shooting films in both their Chicago and California studios. In the one year he made fifteen films, earned an unprecedented salary and established himself as a firm box-office favourite. Audiences around the world clamoured to see his latest Essanay picture.
Unlike other artists, Chaplin had full control over his Essanay films from writing the scripts and directing through to choosing his cast members. Having trouble finding a leading lady, on one occasion he tested a rising young Essanay actress, and then promptly dismissed her. Her name was Gloria Swanson.
The films in this collection include one of the highlights of his early career The Bank, the cross-dressing farce The Woman and Charlie Chaplin's Burlesque on Carmen. Carmen was Chaplin's final Essanay film, scandalously re-cut and extended to four-reels after he left the company. The restored version on this disc is a chance to see Chaplin's own two-reel version as he intended it.Despite their obvious importance, Charlie's Essanay films have only previously been available in poor or incomplete prints. The films in this edition are the result of a nine-year search to find the best materials. These are the most complete editions available, and include scenes never before seen by audiences in the UK.
DVD Extra features include a photo gallery and essay on Chaplin at Essanay
USA | 1915 - 1918 | black & white and tinted | silent with music | 198 minutes | 2 discs | Ratio 1.33:1 | Region 2 DVD
The films are important because they represent Chaplin's transitional period from the knock about comedy of Keystone to the more mature Mutual films.
Some the films such as 'In the Park' and 'By the Sea' could just as easily have been made at Keystone, while such as the 'Champion' and 'The Tramp' are undisputed classics.
The films on this DVD have been restored by the film historian David Sheppard and contain many scenes not seen in years. All the films inter titles have also been reinstated so it is now actually possible to follow the plot of the films. (Unlike many editions seen on video and DVD over the years). The music which plays while the films are on is also very good.
Overall this is a very good package, I would recommend it and volume two to any one who likes silent comedy or Chaplin films. Even if you own the films in previous editions these sets are worth buying since you will be able to see the films in the best condition possible.
A Night in the Show
Burlesque on Carmen
The films represent Chaplins transitional stage from Keystone to Mutual and really do deserve reaccessment. Two of the films - 'The Bank' and 'Police' do infact rival his work at Mutual, while 'Burlesque on Carman' minus the boring scenes inserted by Essnay featuring Ben Turpin can be seen to be actually quite a good film.
The only real dud on the DVD is 'His Regeneration', but only because it is a film that Chaplin only makes a short appearance in.
The presentation and picture quality of this DVD, like all other BFI DVD's, is superb and the music great.
I would like to recommend that you buy this DVD (along with volume one) you will not be disappointed.