Calvero, an out-of-work clown, finds a suicidal woman and tries to save her life. He gets help from a doctor and feeds the young woman until she gets back on her feet. When he asks questions, she eventually answers and admits her past. She tells him the story of meeting a musician years ago. The musician was poor, so she helped him at the expense of her employer. Her kindness to him got her fired, and she never saw him again.
The clown finds out the young woman is a ballerina. After a full recovery, she gets a job in the ballet, tries out for the lead role, and gets it. She meets the musician she was fired for helping because he now works as the piano player for the ballet.
Calvero loves the ballerina and can see that the musician loves her too. He realizes that he’s just an old has-been clown and the musician is more her age. She must decide between them. The ballerina’s interest in Calvero isn’t logical to onlookers, but she doesn’t see beauty or age in men. She only has eyes for her clown.
One of the great moments of the film is a comedy bit featuring Calvero and his partner who was played by Buster Keaton. Keaton has trouble with a piano as he prepares to accompany Calvero.
The enormously talented cast included Claire Bloom as the ballerina and Charles Chaplin as Calvero, the clown. The musician was played by Sydney Chaplin in his film debut. Sydney, the son of Charles Chaplin, won a 1957 Tony Award for his work in “Bells Are Ringing” with Judy Holliday. Charles Chaplin’s younger children make a cameo appearance in the beginning of the film.
I really loved the story, which was Chaplin’s final American film. The story and screenplay were written by Charles Chaplin. The music was written by Charles Chaplin. It was also directed by Charles Chaplin.
Chaplin once remarked, “Figuring out what the audience expects, and then doing something different, is great fun to me.”
Limelight was nominated for the BAFTA Award Best Film from any Source in 1953. But it wasn’t until the film released in Los Angeles in 1972 that it was finally eligible for an Academy Award. Chaplin, along with Ray Rasch and Larry Russell, won a 1973 Oscar for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score.