An aging clown saves a ballerina from suicide and encourages her to live and revive her career as she falls in love with him.


“Chaplin's approach to Limelight was altogether exceptional. He first set it down in the form of a novel running to something like a hundred thousand words. This incorporated two lengthy ‘flashback’ digressions in which he related the biographies of his two main characters, the clown Calvero and the young dancer Terry Ambrose, before the beginning of the story. Much later Chaplin was to say that the idea for Limelight was suggested by his memory of the famous American comedian Frank Tinney, whom he had seen on stage when he first came to New York, at the height of Tinney's popularity. Some years later he saw him again and recognized with shock that ‘the comic Muse had left him’. This gave him the idea for a film which would examine the phenomenon of a man who had lost his spirit and assurance. In Limelight the case was age; Calvero grew old and introspective and acquired a feeling of dignity, and this divorced him from all intimacy with the audience.' Chaplin, in his sixties, must inevitably have taken a subjective view of this peril. Moreover, he was in process of witnessing, painfully, how fickle a mass public can be.”

David Robinson1


“If Limelight as a whole is Chaplin’s farewell, then that final vaudeville act is surely his farewell to slapstick. It is a perfect, hilarious gem; he teams up with Buster Keaton to do a piano-violin duet that runs into small problems like a smashed violin and an overstrung piano. His final exit – and then his last request to have his couch carried to the wings, so that he can watch Miss Bloom dance – is perhaps not so much sentimentality as an expression of his belief that if all things must end, then at least they should end gracefully.”

Roger Ebert2

  • 1David Robinson, Chaplin: his life and art (London: McGraw-Hill, 1985), 550-551.
  • 2Roger Ebert, “Limelight,”, 19 April 1972.
De Cinema, Antwerp