Limelight

I caught the last hour of “The Natural” on one of the movie channels on television.  I found it hard to believe that more than thirty years have passed since the movie was released.  I went to work and got very hungry getting through my shift.  I stopped to have a turkey burger before I returned home, and then I sat down to watch the Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition of “Limelight.”  We see Chaplin’s real-life children in one of the first shots.  Chaplin gave his character, Calvero, too much to say.  I’m not sure he should have spent two years writing this script.  I thought that if Calvero had lit the cigar, the explosion would have killed everyone, and there would be no story.  It’s a dark beginning to the story when one of the characters attempts suicide.  I had severe doubts that the doctor could quickly say that Terry was OK and didn’t need to go to the hospital.  The doctors in this movie don’t seem to know very much.  There is something of “A Star is Born” in this story.  The flea circus routine was not one of my favorites, although Chaplin had worked on it years earlier.  It’s funnier when we can actually see things, like the forks and rolls in “The Gold Rush.”  It seemed odd to me that Calvero insists that he was too old for Terry, given Chaplin’s personal history.  I felt that the audience was laughing too loudly at the benefit performance.  The bit with Chaplin and Buster Keaton went on for too long.  When you get old, your sense of timing is gone.  Buster’s fumbling with the sheet music felt endless.  We didn’t need to see so many shots of it.  I don’t know if I really accepted the idea of the suicidal ballerina pulling herself together and achieving fame.  I liked the sad quality of the movie, but also felt that it ran too long at more than two hours.  Claire Bloom was quite moving when she expressed her devotion to Calvero.  I wondered why it took so long for her to find him after he packed up and left.  He was out there in the streets trying to pick up some change for sing his love song that reminded me of what he did in “Modern Times.”  “Limelight” feels like it is Chaplin’s last film because his character is growing old and knows that his career is gone.  “A Countess from Hong Kong” was an old idea that Chaplin revived.  We didn’t get the chance to see “Limelight” until 1972.  I thought that this Blu-ray edition of the film was very good, but for some scratched footage.  The special features include interviews with Claire Bloom and Norman Lloyd.  Claire Bloom gave a hint of Chaplin’s demanding directing style.  One interesting thing about Lloyd is that he is 101 years old and is the only living person I can think of besides Tippi Hedren who has appeared in films by both Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock.  Lloyd was also in last year’s “Trainwreck.”  Two of the people who died on July 14 include Billy the Kid (1881) and Meredith MacRae (2000).  Today is a birthday for Jane Lynch (56).

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