Charlie Chaplin puts the Little Tramp into the circus, and the result is his most underappreciated feature. Like many of Chaplin's films, The Circus blends the hilarious with the sentimental, and at the core is Charlie's destiny to watch from the sidelines as his love falls for someone else. The very naïveté and sentimentality of Charlie's scenes with Merna Kennedy are what make them so strangely affecting and sincere. But it is the comedy that makes this film priceless. Among the best sequences are: Charlie's pursuit by the police, which takes him through the house of mirrors and includes the famous gag of Charlie turning himself into a sort of robotic figurine to elude the police; Charlie's failure to successfully audition for the circus, because it involves being intentionally funny; Charlie's disastrous introduction as a prop man; Charlie getting stuck in the lion's cage; and, of course, the flawless climax in which Charlie attempts to perform Rex's high wire act. Throughout, there are smaller, more subtle, moments that flesh out the characters and give the film its heart, and as always with Chaplin, there is the essential aspect of Charlie's personality: the Little Tramp who tries to maintain his dignity in the face of ridicule and defeat. Chaplin's pitch-perfect comic timing and his ability to convey the Tramp's personality through the subtlest of gestures and expressions are what make his creation so endurable. In fact, he is so smooth that he makes it easy to take for granted the amount of work involved in making the film seem so effortless, but the very fact that the shooting for the picture spanned an amazing two years underscores just how much sweat and experimentation went into Chaplin's work. The Circus will probably always exist in the shadow of Chaplin's better-known efforts, but it deserves to be fully appreciated on its own terms.