Rush [1991]

Charles Spencer Chaplin, the London ragamuffin who became the most popular man of his era, gets his proper due with this deluxe package of four classics. Each two-disc set begins with an excellent new digital transfer of the picture and remastered sound. The Gold Rush, Chaplin's 1925 masterpiece, puts the Little Tramp into the snowy Yukon; it includes such celebrated sequences as the "Dance of the Rolls" and Chaplin's uncanny metamorphosis into a large chicken. Both the original silent version and Chaplin's re-edited 1942 release (for which he added his own musical score and narration) are included. A documentary on "Chaplin Today" looks at the film through the eyes of Burkina Faso director Idrissa Ouedraogo. Modern Times (1936) is Chaplin's peerless take on the machine age; his ballet on the assembly line remains one of the great images of modern man driven mad by mechanization. The DVD extras include a couple of (somewhat extraneous) vintage promotional films about the wonderful world of mass production, the famous Chaplin composition "Smile" performed by Liberace (huh?), and penetrating comments on the film by the Belgian filmmakers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. The Great Dictator is Chaplin's comic undressing of Hitler, boldly released in 1940. An absorbing documentary, "The Tramp and the Dictator," details production of the film, and color footage shot on the set provides fascinating behind-the-scenes material. Limelight (1952), in which he plays a fading vaudevillian, is Chaplin's magnificent elegy on his own career. Extras include a deleted scene, the entire Oscar-winning score, and Bernardo Bertolucci on the film's emotional impact: "I don't cry often, but here my tears flow." Each film has a loving introduction by Chaplin biographer David Robinson--but newcomers to Chaplin should watch the movies first, as the extras give away endings and the best jokes. --Robert Horton

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