In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

Thumb guilty poster

The Guilty

With its single setting and real-time story, The Guilty is a brilliant genre exercise, a cinematic study in tension, sound design, and how to make…

Thumb halloween poster


Do you know the biggest sin of the new Halloween? It’s just not scary. And that’s one thing you could never say about the original.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Primary eb20101020commentary101029998ar

The Films of Charlie Chaplin

When: Friday through Nov. 4 Where: Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Tickets: $9.25 per movie; all-Chaplin pass, $30 in advance (via the Music Box website); $35 at the door Info:

It used to be said that Charlie Chaplin was the most famous living person in the history of the earth. You could make a good argument for that. He was the first great star of motion pictures, he made silent films so everyone could understand them, and his films penetrated to the most distant corners of the globe.


Today with television such fame is common. Consider the grief when Michael Jackson died. But Chaplin was a new species of famous person, and part of his success is that he almost always played the same person, the Little Tramp. Other silent comedians were also famed: Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Ben Turpin. But even though they might look similar from picture to picture, and Buster often wore his porkpie hat, they played different characters. The Little Tramp was a constant.

The great moments from Chaplin's work will be featured in an ambitious two-week retrospective starting today (Oct. 22) at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport Ave.

Charlie Chaplin was not only famous, but very good. He directed his later films, and so much was he in command of every nuance and gesture, so much was he the designer of elaborate sight gags, so much were the films tailored for the Tramp, that in a sense the character was the auteur.

Chaplin is in a constant state of rediscovery. Unlike many silent stars, he was rich and powerful enough to control the prints of most of his own films; still overseen by his estate, they seem to be in a constant state of restoration, so that you could argue they look better today than when the majority of people saw them for the first time.

The Music Box extravaganza is part of a retrospective, touring nationally, organized by MK2, the Chaplin estate and Janus Films. There will be new 35mm prints of such classics as "The Kid," "The Circus," "City Lights" and "Modern Times."

It's not the first time Chaplin has returned to glory. I recall the first great retro which played here at the old Carnegie theater, circa 1967. Then in 1972 I was at the Venice Film Festival when it showed literally every Chaplin film it could find, with Charlie in person. That climaxed with a breathtaking outdoor screening of "City Lights" in the Piazza San Marco, jammed with a huge audience, and after the film ended (not without some tears), the great square fell dark and a single spotlight picked out a balcony high above, onto which stepped a small, happy man.

Admission to single screenings is $9.25. There's an "All Chaplin Pass" good for every screening at $30 in advance or $35 at the box office. If you plan to see at least six films, that's the way to go. Anyone who turns up for the Halloween screenings dressed as the Tramp gets in for $6. The complete schedule of the Chaplin festival is online at


Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Netflix’s Terrifying, Moving The Haunting of Hill House is Essential Viewing

A review of Mike Flanagan's new horror series based on the Shirley Jackson novel, The Haunting of Hill House.

Danson's Racist 'Humor' Appalls Crowd at Roast

NEW YORK It's a tradition of the celebrity roasts at the Friar's Club that everything goes - that no joke is in such ...

"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" Gets the Deluxe Treatment from Criterion

An epic essay on an epic comedy of the 1960s, now given deluxe treatment on Blu-ray and DVD by Criterion.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus