The thing about Charlie was that he always kept it classy. Whether swiping a hot dog from a baby or fending off an ambush of rabid monkeys while balancing on a tightrope (when tightrope humor was cutting-edge), that bowler hat and those size 14 shoes were the trademark of an eternally dapper gentleman. The Circus (1928), now restored to a new 35mm print, combines all the wackiness, pathos, and unexpected sincerity of his legendary "Little Tramp" persona into a relic of comedy pre-dating our era of unrelenting snark. But remove even the nostalgia factor and the laughs hold up—only a clinically depressed cyborg wouldn't chuckle at Chaplin's deadpan reaction as he escapes the peril of a tiger pen only to stumble directly into a lion cage. This and other standards spanning the Tramp's career—like the gorgeous City Lights or the iconic Gold Rush—will be screened during the Chaplin film series.
July 21-Aug. 5, 1:10 p.m., 2010