In a graceful swan song-necessarily nostalgic but never maudlin-Chaplin evokes the music-hall days of his youth. As Calvero, the forgotten clown, he rescues a young ballerina (Claire Bloom in a captivating debut) from suicide, guides her into the limelight, and then steps aside. Filled with recollections of his parents and featuring his own children in cameo roles, the film contains sometimes bitter memories of a lifetime of creation: “I thought you hated the theatre?” “I do. I also hate the sight of blood, but it's in my veins.” Among the many pleasures of Limelight is Chaplin's only film appearance alongside Buster Keaton as another aging dance-hall comic. Chaplin not only wrote, directed, and starred but composed the score and staged a ballet sequence for the film. Released at the height of America's Red-baiting years, it was greeted by pickets and quickly relegated to a European run.

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