“If you strike that girl, I'll quit! And what's more, I want what I'm worth.”
Charlie Chaplin is what the word genius was created for. The Circus is only the sixth Charlie Chaplin film I have seen (the others: The Great Dictator, Modern Times, City Lights, A King in New York, and The Gold Rush). I have loved every single one. The man knew how to entertain with wonderful heartwarming stories. The Circus is brilliant from beginning to end.
Merna (Merna Kennedy) is a circus performer in her father’s show. She missed the hoop in her act because she was afraid. Her father hits her to the ground and tells her she is to have no dinner that night.
The Tramp is walking around the circus. He comes to a stop near a food stand where a baby has food in its hand. The Tramp takes bites out of whatever food the baby has since he is hungry. Standing next to The Tramp is a pickpocket. The pickpocket takes a wallet out of a man’s pocket. So he will not get caught the pickpocket puts the wallet in The Tramp’s pants. When the man the wallet was stolen from leaves the pickpocket tries to take the wallet out of The Tramp’s pants. A police officer rounds the corner and sees what is going on. The officer thinks the wallet belongs to The Tramp and gives the wallet to him. Unfortunately for The Tramp the man who the wallet really belongs to sees his wallet. Now The Tramp and the pickpocket are both running from the police officer.
The chase finds its way into the circus tent. The Tramp trips over things and gets into the middle of a performance. The audience roars with laughter as they think The Tramp is part of the act. After the chase is over the audience wants to see more of “the funny man.” The ringmaster finds The Tramp and gives him a tryout for the following morning. That night The Tramp was making his found dinner of a can of something and a piece of bread. He leaves his spot for a minute when Merna comes out of her train car and smells the food. She ravenously eats the piece of bread since she was not allowed to eat her dinner. The Tramp come back and shoos her away but he gives in and gives her part of his bread.
The following day The Tramp’s audition goes horribly. He does nothing funny he just ruins all the skits and drives the actors and the ringmaster crazy. The Tramp’s luck is not over yet. All the property men for the show have quit and the ringmaster tells the lead property man to find anybody to come and help. The lead property man sees The Tramp and gives him a job. While trying to work The Tramp is chased by donkey into the ring. He messes up a magician’s show. The audience once again thinks The Tramp is part of the show and they love him. The ringmaster decides to keep The Tramp as part of the act only he will not tell The Tramp he is actually a big hit.
The Donkey once again chases after The Tramp. Unfortunately the place where The Tramp decides to hide is the lion’s cage. Merna happens to walk by but she winds up fainting seeing The Tramp in the cage with a dangerous lion. Merna comes to and gets The Tramp out of the cage before the lion woke up. Merna lets slip to The Tramp that he is the star of the show. Her father happens to overhear what she has said and hits her. The Tramp stops her father by saying if he hits her again he will leave the show and that he also wants what he is worth.
Before the show The Tramp hears Merna having her fortune told. The fortune teller tells Merna that she will marry a man with dark hair. The Tramp thinks the teller is talking about him and he gets all excited. That night Merna meets Rex the new tightrope walker. The Tramp also overhears this and he is gutted. Since that night The Tramp has been unable to be funny because his heart has been broken. He comes across the tightrope that has been set up low to the ground. He tries it and does a good job. The ringmaster sees him do this and he is told that if he is not funny soon he will be kicked out of the circus. That night Rex is nowhere to be found. The ringmaster tells The Tramp to do the tightrope act. He bribes one of the workers to let him use a brace hooked up to a wire so he will not fall. The brace comes off but fortunately The Tramp is able to get to the other side.
During his act The Tramp sees Merna is being beat by her father again. He quickly goes over to defend her and in the meantime embarrasses the ringmaster in front of others. The Tramp is fired from the circus. He is sitting in the woods when Merna finds him. She tells The Tramp she has run away she wants to come along with him. The Tramp has something else in mind. He leaves Merna at the little campsite he has set up and finds Rex. He wants Rex to be with Merna.
Rex and Merna get married. All three performers go back to the circus. When Merna’s father finds her he tries to beat her for running away. Since they are now married Rex steps in. They want to stay with the circus but will only stay if The Tramp can come back. The ringmaster agrees. The Tramp is supposed to ride in another train car instead he watches the caravan ride away to the next town.
The Circus like all of Charlie Chaplin’s films I have seen is beautiful. I love how Chaplin added so much heart to his comedy. His comedy was funny, cruel, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. Chaplin was a genius at grabbing his audiences’ attention with his characters and stories. His characters and stories are relatable no matter the circumstances. There are so many hysterical scenes in The Circus it is hard to choose just one and the film would no longer be fun for you to see if I gave away any of them. The Circus is a must see it is so enjoyable and absolutely perfect.