One marvelously entertaining bastard

The derby, the rectangular moustache, the funky shoes and that waddle accompanied only by the sound of music. For many, Charles Chaplin was simply the Tramp, a silent film star with an astonishingly expressive face and huge gift for physical comedy. In truth, he was a maverick director on par with the likes of Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, making movies well into the ’60s, and the later ones with sound. The Chaplin Collection: Volume 2 includes some of Chaplin’s more famous works, like his silent The Kid (1921) and City Lights (1931), as well as underappreciated “talkies” like Monsieur Verdoux (1947) and A King In New York (1957). With Verdoux, Chaplin (who often wrote his own screenplays and composed his scores) shocked audiences by completely jettisoning the Tramp to play a serial killer murdering rich women for their money. That shock helped fuel growing public and governmental antagonism toward the star, winding up in his European exile after being labeled by many as a Communist sympathizer. Chaplin’s entire career, from the moment of his Tramp’s first prominent screen appearance in Kid Auto Races at Venice (1914) to his death on Christmas day of ’77, is captured in Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin. Directed by Time magazine critic Richard Schickel, it’s an engaging tribute featuring interviews with the likes of Scorsese, Johnny Depp and Woody Allen. Also contained in the package is The Circus (featuring the silent Charlie walking a tightrope while having his nose bitten by frightened monkeys), a two-disc set featuring A Woman in Paris and A King in New York, and The Chaplin Revue, a collection of seven classic silent shorts. If you find this intriguing, Volume One is also a must. It gathers The Gold Rush, Modern Times, The Great Dictator (his first sound film, in which he lampooned Hitler) and Limelight. Film grades for Volume 2: The Circus (A-); The Chaplin Revue (A-); The Kid (B+); City Lights (A+); Monsieur Verdoux (A-); A Woman in Paris (B-); A King in New York (B-); Charlie (A).

Special Features: All of the films, with the exception of the documentary, come with tons of supplements, including featurettes, outtakes, sketches, historic film reels and much more. All of the films, except Verdoux and Charlie, get double-disc treatment, although the producers managed to fit a nice amount of extras on the Verdoux disc. Watch out, because once you get started watching these movies and extras, there’s no stopping. Chaplin was one marvelously entertaining bastard.

Movies: See Review

Special Features: A+

Geek Factor: 9.5