Oscar Movies: Limelight (1952)–Chaplin’s Last Significant Movie

Despite shortcoming, Charles Chaplin’s 1952 film is his last significant work; the one after, King in New York, made in 1957 in England, was much weaker.

Overlong, visually flat, and too verbose, Limelight tells a sentimental story between an alcoholic has been music hall comedian named Calvero (Chaplin) and a lovely young ballerina (the beautiful Claire Bloom), who he rescues from suicide.

He nurses her back to health, and when she finds work as a dancer, she remembers his goodness and reciprocates by getting him a job with the company.

However, later on, he disappears, realizing that her devotion to him endangers her chances to be happily married. In the end, he suffers a heart attack and dies, while watching from the wings his beloved ballerina dancing.

The narrative is messy, a result of its poor, episodic construction, but it contains many lyrical and funny moments.

On one level, it’s a personal film, sort of an autobiographical fantasy-nightmare, with its focus on an aging vaudeville clown, Calvero, not unlike Chaplin at the time.

Among many merits, it’s the only time that Chaplin teams with his brilliant contemporary and rival, Buster Keaton, who appears as an old crony in a lovely homage

The final, eloquent shot is extremely touching, conveying the transcendence of genuine art, theme that Chaplin was concerned with in this and other films.


Oscar Nomination: 1


Original Dramatic Score: Chaplin, Ratmond Rusch and Larry Russell.

Oscar Awards: 1

Dramatic Score.