The Circus (1928) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Circus (1928)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Less maudlin than many of Chaplin's longer films, this one won him a special Academy Award for "versatility and genius in writing, acting, directing and producing," due in part to the outlandish final scenes. In this silent film, the Little Tramp is a member of a traveling circus and falls in love with a beautiful bareback rider.

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Charles Chaplin
as W?ócz?ga, Tramp
Allan Garcia
as Ringmaster
George Davis
as Magician, Magik
Stanley J. Sanford
as Property Man
Betty Morrissey
as Vanishing Lady, Znikaj?ca kobieta
John Rand
as Asst. Property Man
Henry Bergman
as Old Clown
Steve Murphy
as Pickpocket
Jack Pierce
as Man Operating Ropes
Stanley "Tiny" Sandford
as The Head Property Man
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Critic Reviews for The Circus

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (4)

[Charles Chaplin] does not seem satisfied with the hearty laughs that used to greet him, but seeks to embroider his farce with touches of pathos that make one uncomfortable with their incongruity.

April 1, 2019 | Full Review…

It's a brilliant combination of light and darkness, tenderness and violence and, yes, laughter and tears.

July 14, 2010

There's an edge to The Circus that suggests a man gazing deep into the void, laughing at the darkness and urging us to do the same.

July 14, 2010 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Innovative and timelessly hilarious.

May 26, 2010 | Full Review… of [Chaplin's] most unforgettable and melancholy films, one filled to the brim with unforgettable gags and set pieces.

January 8, 2020 | Rating: 9/10 | Full Review…

while it is hardly Chaplin's best film, The Circus is packed with enough memorable moments, a few of which rank among Chaplin's greatest comic achievements, to stand firmly on its own

November 9, 2019 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Circus


A very amusing and delightful silent film that probably would have been better had it been made a bit shorter, since it begins extremely hilarious but after a while starts to become less funny - even though the climax on the tightrope is belly-achingly hysterical.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


The Circus is quite a charming little film from the silent era, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. He of course plays the "little tramp" character who, while being chased by the cops, stumbles into the middle of a three ring circus where his antics draw the attention (and laughs), of the audience. The crowd's reaction does not escape the attention of circus proprietor and Ring Master (Al Garcia), who attempts to hire the tramp as a clown. The little tramp can only be funny spontaneously, and all the ring master's attempts at training him to be a clown fail, so the boss hires the tramp on as a janitor, whom he finds surreptitious ways to put out in front of the crowd at showtime. Of course the ring master has a beautiful step-daughter (Merna Kennedy), who is kowtowed to the ring master after years of abuse. The tramp falls in love with her and tries to win her affection. It's said that after choosing the circus location, Chaplin largely improvised the film, which is probably why the plot is so basic. However, films from this era (especially comedies) are rarely plot-heavy, relying on different situations and tableaus rather than in depth story-telling. The Circus does deviate in the end from other standard stories, and it's final scene is quite effective. Overall, a sweet comedy that lets just the tiniest bit of real life peek through the movie screen.

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

This movie is really fun, cute, and humorous, I enjoyed it, and I recommend it.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

The Circus Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

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