Just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong while Charlie Chaplin was making The Circus in 1927. And he still came up with a comedy masterpiece.
The Circus screens on Sunday, March 10, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch as part of the Movies That Matter film series.
Introductory and closing remarks are provided by Robert W. Butler, for more than 40 years film critic of The Kansas City Star and now a member of the Library's public affairs staff. Walter Bryant provides live piano accompaniment; he also was responsible for the live music played during the screening of Buster Keaton's The General last fall.
Given the miserable year he was having, no one would have blamed Chaplin for packing it in and shelving The Circus.
A studio fire destroyed the sets. Chaplin was going through a bitter divorce. His mother, long plagued with mental problems, died. And the IRS took the wildly popular movie star to court over back taxes.
The production was shut down for eight months.
Yet from all this misery came a work that sums up all that is great about Chaplin: Amazing acrobatics, side-splitting comedy, bittersweet romance.
Result: The Circus became the seventh highest-grossing silent film of all time, earning more than $3.8 million. But we celebrate it today because of the pleasure it continues to deliver.
Major funding for programs at the Kansas City Public Library is provided by a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Admission is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407.
Other titles in the series:
March 24: Rear Window (1954)
April 7: Wings of Desire (1987)
April 21: Singin' in the Rain (1952)
May 5: Sunset Boulevard (1950)
May 19: Metropolis (1927)