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Limelight – The Criterion Collection #756 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 16, 2015 by  



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I know that many people prefer the silent films of Chaplin, and there are those who are not familiar with his later films. But “Limelight” is a later Chaplin film that is recommended for viewing. There is no doubt that Chaplin put his heart and soul into this film and in essence, you can look at it as the great entertainer passing his baton to a new generation of talent. Chaplin’s final American film receives a magnificent Blu-ray release from the Criterion Collection and is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © 2015 The Criterion Collection. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Limelight – The Criterion Collection #756

YEAR OF FILM: 1952

DURATION: 137 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:37:1 aspect ratio, English Monaural LPCM 1.0, Subtitles: English SDH

COMPANY: Janus Films/THE CRITERION COLLECTION

RELEASE DATE: May 19, 2015


Directed by Charles Chaplin

Original Story and Screenplay by Charles Chaplin

Produced by Charles Chaplin

Music by Charles Chaplin

Cinematography by Karl Struss

Edited by Joe Inge

Art Direction by Eugene Lourie

Costume Design by Riley Thorne


Starring:

Charles Chaplin as Calvero

Claire Bloom as Thereza

Nigel Bruce as Postant

Buster Keaton as Calvero’s Partner

Sydney Chaplin as Neville

Norman Lloyd as bodalink


Charlie Chaplin’s masterful drama about the twilight of a former vaudeville star is among the writer-director’s most touching films. Chaplin plays Calvero, a once beloved musical-comedy performer, now a washed-up alcoholic who lives in a small London flat. A glimmer of hope arrives when he meets a beautiful but melancholy ballerina (Claire Bloom) who lives downstairs. An elegant mix of the comic and the tragic, this poignant movie also features Buster Keaton in an extended cameo, marking the only time the two silent comedy icons appeared in a film together. Made at a time when Chaplin was under attack by the American press and far right, Limelight was scarcely distributed in the United States upon its initial release, but it is now considered one of his essential and most personal works.

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The 1950’s were not the kindest to Charles Chaplin.

The film star that was on top of the world in the teens and twenties and a career that continued to stay strong in the ’30s, became more involved in politics much to the dismay of J.Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI and a smear campaign was developed to destroy Chaplin.

With a film career now waning in the late ’40s and ’50s and with the failure of his film “Monsieur Verdoux” (1947), Chaplin would begin working on the story for his next film “Limelight”.

Because many theaters decided to pass on showing “Limelight”, Chaplin would hold the world premiere in London and by the time he left with his family in September 1952, the attorney general revoked Chaplin’s re-entry permit and that if he intended to re-enter the U.S., he must submit to an interview concerning his political views and moral behavior.  And because of this, Chaplin would cut his ties with the United States to never appear until 1972 when the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences offered Chaplin an Honorary Award.

That year, “Limelight” would be re-released in the United States, twenty years after its initial release.  And through the year’s the film would grow in reputation, considered as Chaplin’s last great film and would also be the only film to star two of silent film’s kings, Chaplin and Buster Keaton.  It will also become known as his most personal and introspective film.

While many feel it is an autobiographical film about Chaplin’s fall from grace in cinema and Chaplin insisting the film’s primary character was about stage actor Frank Tierney, there is no doubt that the film does mirror Chaplin’s own personal life.

And now, “Limelight” will be released by the Criterion Collection on Blu-ray and DVD in May 2015.

“Limelight” is set in London 1914, the eve of World War II, and a once famous stage clown named Calvero (portrayed by Charles Chaplin) is now a drunk.

As he is entering his apartment complex, he smells gas and finds a young dancer named Thereza (portrayed by Claire Bloom) unconscious.

Calvero eventually saves the young woman but finds out that Thereza a.k.a. “Terry” had tried to kill herself after suffering an injury that will prevent her from dancing again.

Eventually he has Terry live with him and help her regain her self-esteem, help her get back on her feet and walk again.  While he tries to help her, she returns to dancing and is recognized for her dancing and becomes famous.  Unfortunately for Calvero, his comeback is not successful.

A young military man named Neville (portrayed by Sydney Earl Chaplin) tries to get closer to Terry and falls in love with her, but for Terry, she is in love with Calvero and does not care about their age difference.

Wanting to give Terry a chance with Neville, Calvero leaves her in hopes she will succeed on her own.


VIDEO:

“Limelight – The Criterion Collection #756” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:37:1 aspect ratio).  The film is well-contrast with white and grays featuring fine detail.  Blacks are inky and deep.  There is a good amount of grain and for the most part, there is no discoloration, blurriness and picture quality is magnificent.

According to the Criterion Collection, “This new restoration was undertaken by the Criterion Collection in collaboration with the Cineteca di Bologna. For the restoration, a new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the 35mm original negative at L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, and warps were manually removed using MTI’s DRS, while Digital Vision’s Phoenix was used for small dirt, grain, noise management, flicker, and jitter.”

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for audio, “Limelight – The Criterion Collection #756” is presented in English LPCM 1.0 monaural. Dialogue is clear with no sign of hiss or crackle.

According to the Criterion Collection, “The original monaural soundtrack was digitized at 24-bit, using COSP technology, from the 35mm sound negatives. Clicks, thumps, hiss, hum, and crackle were manually removed using Pro Tools HD, AudioCube’s integrated workstation, and iZotope RX4.”

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Limelight – The Criterion Collection #756″ comes with the following special features:

  • Chaplin’s “Limelight” – (21:11) Chaplin biographer David Robinson explores the evolution and personal nature of “Limelight”.
  • Claire Bloom and Norman Lloyd – Interview with actress Claire Bloom (15:53) and actor Norman Lloyd (14:53).
  • Chaplin Today: “Limelight” – (26:43) A 2002 program directed by Edgardo Cozarinsky featuring interviews with filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, Claire Bloom and Sydney Chaplin.
  • Outtake – (4:31) An outtake that was included in the original premiere of “Limelight” in 1952 but was removed before the film was distributed worldwide.
  • Charlie Chaplin Reads from Footlights – (2:16) Chaplin reads two excerpts from his novella “Footlights”, the basis for “Limelight” (audio only).
  • Short Films – Featuring two shorts: “A Night in the Show” (1915, 25:06) – Chaplin’s 12th film from Essanay Film Manufacturing Company.  And “The Professor” (1919, 6:27) – An uncompleted short by Charles Chaplin.
  • Trailers – Featuring the English and Italian trailers for “Limelight”.

EXTRAS:

“Limelight – The Criterion Collection #756” comes with a 42-page booklet featuring the essays “Portrait of an Artist as an Old Man” by Peter Von Bagh and “Hollywood Chaplin” by Henry Gris.


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Chaplin’s final American film “Limelight” is a film that I felt entertained but also made me feel sad for the great entertainer.

For those of us who are able to live today, to watch a Chaplin film in HD, to read nothing but praise but also to celebrate his career and acknowledging how great he was as a man of all trades is amazing.  Charlie Chaplin was no doubt an amazing man that directed, wrote, produced, starred, composed a lot of his films but to know that the way we look at Chaplin today, was a much different experience for viewers during the ’50s is heartbreaking.

To know that the FBI would do all they can to damage his career but prevent him from coming back to the United States is one of the great entertainment tragedies to play out in media, considering how much he has given to cinema but also entertain millions of people worldwide.

The community hunt for those in the entertainment industry is well-documented but “Limelight”, although Chaplin insists in his books that it was about a real life stage actor not of himself, does seem autobiographical in the sense that a Chaplin in his ’50s, was no longer loved in the entertainment world as he was once decades ago.

He felt at the time that this would be his final movie because all that has gone on in his personal life but yet, with great resolve and being the professional that he is, he created a magnificent film that many Americans and theaters passed on.

While the film was re-released in 1972, 20-years later to coincide with him receiving an honorary Academy Award, for many Americans not familiar with his later films, thanks to the Criterion Collection, many will get to see his last great American film.

The film would become the springboard for stage actress Claire Bloom (who would go on to star in “The King’s Speech”, “Cash of the Titans”, “Crimes and Misdemeanors”, “The Haunting”) who continues to have a strong acting career today.

“Limelight” would be the first pairing of the two silent comedy kings, Chaplin and Buster Keaton but also a film that shows how grateful Chaplin was to his friend by giving him a part in his film, considering the troubles that Keaton had in his personal life.

The movie would also become the debut of Sydney Chaplin, the second son of Charles and his second wife Lita Grey, as the man who falls for Terry.

The film would also feature Chaplin’s children – Charles Chaplin Jr., Geraldine, Josephine, Michael and wife Oona Chaplin would also appear in the film.

But “Limelight” is a fitting final American film for Charles Chaplin (his final film was in 1969 titled “A Countess from Hong Kong”), as if it was created to be the last hurrah for the great entertainer.

The Criterion Collection also made sure that viewers and collectors would have a magnificent product thanks to the wonderful picture and audio quality but also the number of special features which includes two Chaplin short films.

Overall, I know that many people prefer the silent films of Chaplin, and there are those who are not familiar with his later films.  But “Limelight” is a later Chaplin film that is recommended for viewing.  There is no doubt that Chaplin put his heart and soul into this film and in essence, you can look at it as the great entertainer passing his baton to a new generation of talent.

Chaplin’s final American film receives a magnificent Blu-ray release from the Criterion Collection and is highly recommended!

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