“Life is a desire, not a meaning.”
In 1914 London, a washed-up, alcoholic clown (Charlie Chaplin) saves a despondent young ballerina (Claire Bloom) from killing herself, and she soon falls in love with him. As Bloom’s career begins to take off, Chaplin’s fails to resuscitate; meanwhile, Bloom insists she wants to marry Chaplin rather than accept the advances of a handsome young composer (Sydney Chaplin).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Alcoholism and Drug Addiction
- Charlie Chaplin Films
- Claire Bloom Films
- May-December Romance
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this late-career Chaplin film about a once-famous clown named Calvero who “inspires [a suicidal ballerina] to take a more optimistic view of life” is hurt by the fact that Chaplin clearly “craves sympathy”: his “Calvero (Chaplin’s surrogate) is a martyr whose vast talents are ignored by producers and the public, and who doesn’t realize (as Bloom and we do) what an altruistic, selfless human being he is.” Peary adds that “Bloom is an appealing lead, gorgeous (what a smile), tender, talented”, and that “Chaplin does some impressive comedy stage routines”. However, this well-meaning film is flawed in numerous ways: by dated Freudian psychology (Bloom is convinced she can’t even walk, let alone dance, until Calvero becomes her savior merely through encouragement); an overly leisurely screenplay that runs about an hour too long; and a melodramatic ending hyper-focused on Calvero’s martyrdom. Buster Keaton arrives near the end to co-star with Calvero but isn’t given sufficient focus or due. It’s also not clear why audience members are suddenly so uproariously engaged by Calvero’s routines during a final revival (unlike during previous performences)– is this meant to indicate Calvero’s fantasy during his final moments?
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Claire Bloom as Terry
- Charlie Chaplin as Calvero
- Atmospheric cinematography
No, though of course Chaplin fans will want to check it out.