Thursday, October 25, 2012

Limelight (1952)

(I completely forgot about the 60th anniversary of the release of this film on the 23rd. I was in the midst of painting my living room, a job which took three days. I don't think my back will ever be the same.)

In June 1953, Charlie's half-brother Sydney and his wife Gypsy, were invited to a private showing of the film in Los Angeles. Sydney, who was often critical of Charlie's films, gave a touching review in a letter to Charlie & Oona, who were now living in Switzerland:

"We think it is a 'masterpiece' and the greatest Charlie has ever made. There are no superlatives I could use to do justice to it. It was so well acted, so beautifully balanced between laughter and pathos. Gypsy and I cried like kids, so much so, that we waited for everyone to leave the room before we left our seats. You did an excellent piece of acting Charlie and so did Claire Bloom."
He related to Charlie that he and Gyspy discussed the film for hours and then the next morning, when they put the record on the phonograph, broke into tears once again. "It's a good thing," he writes, "you have not my brooding nature. If I had had to endure the persecution you have received in this country, someone would have been murdered. I think it is a damnable crime that such a picture as 'Limelight' should be banned in America." (Lisa Stein Haven, Syd Chaplin: A Biography)


  1. So glad you posted this. I just saw "Limelight" again for the umpteenth time, and felt the same way you did. I also could not get the music out of my head for days. It is such an incredibly personal and heartfelt picture. I also always wish (when watching the film) that Chaplin had taken on more acting roles. He was so honest and in the moment. Just beautiful.

    I also just read the Syd Chaplin bio. I really give Lisa Stein kudos for undertaking it. There was a bit too much description of various movie plots and music hall routines, but she really filled a void for Chaplin aficionados.