A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Charlie Chaplin was a perfectionist in his films and a calamity in his private life. These two traits clashed as he was making "The Circus," one of his funniest films and certainly the most troubled. When he sat down to write his autobiography, he simply never mentioned it, perhaps because he wanted to sidestep that entire period. Yet a delightful movie emerged from the turmoil.
When he released it in 1928, Charlie was long since established as the greatest star in Hollywood. He must have feared the advent of the talkies, which by bringing sound to the movies would rob him of his silence. But more than sound was on his mind during the two years it took him to finally finish his production.
Always attracted to young girls, he married the 16-year-old Mildred Harris in 1918, when he was 29. After affairs with Pola Negri and Marion Davies, in 1924 he married Lita Grey, who said she was 16 but may have been 15. He learned she was pregnant while preparing "The Circus," and after she sued for divorce and threatened scandal, her family scented a big settlement. They agreed on $600,000, while the IRS simultaneously determined he owed $1 million in back taxes.
Meanwhile, Chaplin had hired Lita's friend Merna Kennedy as his lead in "The Circus"; Lita charged that they had an affair, and he also had an affair during the same period with the great silent star Louise Brooks. There were also rumors of wild parties, apparently true; his genitals led an undisciplined existence.