The Circus

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.



Total Count: 21


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,685
User image

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.

Watch it now


Allan Garcia
as Ringmaster
George Davis
as Magician
Stanley "Tiny" Sandford
as The Head Property Man
Stanley J. Sanford
as Property Man
Betty Morrissey
as Vanishing Lady
John Rand
as Asst. Property Man
Henry Bergman
as Old Clown
Steve Murphy
as Pickpocket
Jack Pierce
as Man Operating Ropes
View All

Critic Reviews for The Circus

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (4)

Audience Reviews for The Circus

  • Apr 30, 2016
    Overall, it's a relatively minor work from Chaplin, but the slapstick is top notch. It works as pure zany energy.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 10, 2012
    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 M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 28, 2011
    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 B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 09, 2011
    Good story with funny slapstick and a touching, atypical ending. Not as good as The Kid, The Gold Rush, City Lights or Modern Times, but still a worthy entry in the 'Tramp' series.
    Dillon L Super Reviewer

The Circus Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features