One of the first images in Charlie Chaplin's Limelight is of a young woman sprawled on her bed, a small bottle clutched in her hand. Who is this woman and why did she try to kill herself?
We find out she's Thereza (Claire Bloom), a ballerina struggling to find work after a bout of illness. The man who saved her is in a similar situation. He's Calvero (Chaplin), a once-great music hall performer now in his twilight years. She recovers and manages to find work, but his career continues to dwindle.
Limelight is certainly Chaplin's most somber film. After all, this was made not long after his popularity started to fade. (In fact, on his way to the London premiere, he was denied access back into the United States.) And parallels between Chaplin and Calvero are intentional.
Chaplin doesn't sugarcoat any aspect of Calvero's downfall. When we're first introduced to Calvero, he's drunk. Not comedic drunk; it's more of a pathetic drunk. And any promise of a career kick start getting shot down is truly devastating. Sad clown, indeed.
Limelight quite quickly became my favorite Chaplin film. Granted, I did enjoy the bittersweet comedy of Modern Times and The Gold Rush, but what Chaplin did for Limelight is something that must be seen. Just the poignancy and sadness about the film...it's lovely.
My Rating: *****