TCMFF Recap: Limelight (1952)

As I posted to my tumblr account, I indeed did have a lot of fun at the annual meetup of #OldMovieWeirdos, also known as the TCM Film Festival.

Over the next week or so, my plan is to post recaps of some of my favorite films, in addition to a couple of other film-related highlights from the weekend in the heart of Hollywood, USA. Hope you are thoroughly entertained!

I start with Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight. Some of you may be immediately thinking, I thought he was a silent film star that essentially went away with the advent of the talkies? Well, while Chaplin’s persona is indelibly etched into our cultural zeitgeist as the loveable “Little Tramp,” a quick study of his life and career will show that he was so much more – writer, director and composer. And at the time of Limelight‘s release in 1952, Chaplin’s alleged Communist affiliation and essential banishment from the Hollywood establishment meant that for some time, this film, received less notoriety and attention than it probably deserved.

In any regard, time has passed and it is clear that his talent is on full display in this melancholic yet lovely tale of a washed-up, alcoholic comedian Calvero (Chaplin) and his relationship with a young, emotionally crippled ballerina Terry (Claire Bloom).

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Set in London, it is a May-December tale that is also a lyrical meditation on life and love. The denouement is one, which if I am to be frank, left me in tears – in only the way an evocative piece of cinema can.

Before we come to this end, however, we are treated a fabulous two-man act featuring Chaplin and fellow silent screen legend Buster Keaton.

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The experience of seeing Limelight on the big screen was made all the more memorable by the appearance of 100-year old cast member Norman Lloyd, who not only introduced the film (and regaled us with tales of his friendship with Chaplin), but also stayed to watch the film with the captive/captivated audience.

If you consider yourself the least bit curious about the cinematic legacy of Chaplin, certainly add this one to your list.

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