DVD & Blu-ray

Blu-ray: Charlie Chaplin Classics

Two of Charlie Chaplin’s classic films, The Circus (1928) and City Lights (1931), are out on Blu-ray this week in dual format editions with a DVD included on each.

The Circus has long been overshadowed by being sandwiched in between two of his most famous films, The Gold Rush (1925) and City Lights (1931).

Whilst not amongst finest work, there is still a lot to appreciate with Chaplin playing his traditional “Little Tramp” role, who ends up joining a failing circus after being on the run from the law.

Through a series of coincidences he unwittingly becomes the star of the show and falls in love with a pretty tightrope walker (Merna Kennedy).

Although it doesn’t have quite the spark or polish of his best work, The Circus contains some memorable sequences including a Hall of Mirrors, Chaplin trapped in a lion’s cage and him running along a tightrope with his trousers falling down.

The extras on this Blu-ray include:

  • Chaplin Today
  • Introduction by David Robinson
  • Deleted scenes
  • Outtakes

City Lights is a superior film and arguably one of the key works in the history of early cinema.

Chaplin was already into production when the talkie revolution was taking over Hollywood and he faced a tricky decision to complete the film as a silent, except for a musical score and occasional sound effects.

Returning as his Little Tramp figure, Chaplin falls for a blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill) and through a series of coincidences befriends a genuine millionaire (Harry Myers).

Arguably his best film, it works as a love stroy and an extended social satire, lampooning the hypocrisy and arrogance of “polite society” and their cruelty to those less fortunate than them.

Striking a deep chord with audiences during the Great Depression, it was Orson Welles‘ favourite film and its fans included such filmmaking luminaries as Stanley Kubrick and Andrei Tarkovsky.

The extras include:

  • ‘Chaplin Today’: City Lights documentary
  • Introduction by David Robinson (Chaplin Biographer)
  • Short Film: ‘Charlie And The Boxing Stars’
  • Footage of Winston Churchill visiting the set
  • Outtakes

Because of the age of these films, the transfer to HD doesn’t have the transformative effect that you can see on classic films such as Gone With The Wind or The Wizard of Oz.

However, the higher resolution does make it look superior to previous DVD versions and the framing appears to have improved a great deal with more details visible.

For fans of Chaplin and silent cinema, this is still the best presentation of these available for home viewing.

Also out on DVD (though not Blu-ray) is The Chaplin Revue, which features three classic silent comedies – A Dog’s Life (1918), Shoulder Arms (1918) and The Pilgrim (1923), which are combined to form a single feature length film with new music.

All of these titles

> Buy The Circus, City Lights and The Chaplin Revue from Amazon UK
> Find out more about Charlie Chaplin at Wikipedia

DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 15th November 2010


Avatar: Collector’s Extended Edition (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment): James Cameron’s sci-fi blockbuster finally gets the special edition treatment after a barebones release back in the Spring.

The major selling point for this package is that it contains three different cuts: the original theatrical release, the special edition re-release, and the exclusive extended cut not shown in theaters, along with eight hours of bonus features that exhaustively detail the production of the film. [Buy it on Blu-ray or DVD]

City Lights (Park Circus): The 1931 silent comedy-drama from Charlie Chaplin sees The Tramp fall in love with a beautiful, blind flower girl and form an unlikely friendship with a wealthy man.

Still one of the landmark films of the 1930s, this restoration on Blu-ray comes with some nice features including a documentary and outtakes. [But it on Blu-ray]

The Last Boy Scout (Warner Home Video): Although it criticised at the time, this 1991 action thriller directed by Tony Scott and written by Shane Black is wonderfully slick entertainment.

Starring Bruce Willis as a private eye caught up in the world of illegal sports, it is a surprisingly edgy mainstream film with some hilariously cynical humour and world weary performances. The studio were reportedly upset with the film but the Blu-ray release is a chance to appreciate Scott’s visual tricks in all their widescreen glory. [Buy it on Blu-ray]


An Idiot Abroad (2 Entertain) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Charlie Chaplin: The Circus (Park Circus) [Blu-ray with DVD]
Fast and Furious/Gladiator/Wanted (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray]
How to Train Your Dragon (DreamWorks Animation) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Lethal Weapon Collection (Warner Home Video) [Blu-ray]
Spirits of the Dead (Arrow Films) [Blu-ray]
Star Wars – The Clone Wars: Season 2 (Warner Home Video)
The Karate Kid (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [Blu-ray with DVD]
White Christmas (Paramount Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray]

> The Best DVD and Blu-rays of 2009
> UK Cinema Releases for Friday 12th November 2010