Charting Charlie Chaplin on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD

  • Tracking the US Criterion Collection’s periodic release of Chaplin’s 1918–1957 output on disc
  • Trickling out each one over a period of several years, they’re taking their time and doing it right!

This is part of a series covering Chaplin’s life and career. If you’ve landed directly on this page, I strongly recommend you start from the Part 1 introduction.

For a good while now, in Europe it’s been relatively easy and cheap to pick up high quality, officially-licensed and extras-laden Blu-rays of all 11 of the films Chaplin made between 1921–1957, including The Chaplin Revue. They’re all region B-locked releases, with most also appearing on South American and Japanese (region A) discs, and have all been issued on DVD too.

But US fans are having to be a little more patient. The Criterion Collection are releasing them in non-chronological order, at the rate of one or two per year. They’ve had the home video rights since 2010, while Janus Films, their sister company, now handle theatrical distribution.

Charlie Chaplin, Janus Films theatrical re-release poster by Kate Beaton, 2010

Janus Films theatrical re-release poster by Kate Beaton, 2010

Criterion are certainly taking great care with them, performing additional audio and video clean-up to the Association Chaplin-supplied masters. In several cases they’re also organising brand new scans and restorations. They’re also creating mostly new extras, though some are ported over from the superlative 2003 mk2/Warner DVDs. Even these get a significant upgrade over previous releases though, as all extras so far (on the Blu-rays, of course) have been transferred in HD. Also included in most releases are one of Criterion’s typically expansive booklets. They’re full of all the good stuff you’d expect: reproductions of original posters, artwork and stills; contemporary and modern essays and reviews from leading critics and historians; and reprints of various Chaplin writings and interviews. These are the films we can expect from Criterion:

Three of the seven shorts Chaplin made for First National from 1918–1923 were later re-edited into The Chaplin Revue. Criterion have the rights to all of these too, so should release them eventually.


The Kid (1921)

The Kid (1921) Charlie Chaplin, Criterion US Blu-ray

Blu-ray: region A, all extras in HD / DVD: region 1, SD video/Dolby Digital audio

  • Audio commentary with Chaplin historian Charles Maland
  • Jackie Coogan: The First Child Star video essay by Chaplin historian Lisa Haven (19m)
  • A Study in Undercranking featurette (25m)
  • Interviews: co-star Jackie Coogan (11m) and ex-wife Lita Grey Chaplin (10m)
  • Audio interviews: cinematographer Rollie Totheroh (8m) and film distributor Mo Rothman (10m)
  • Deleted scenes from the original 1921 version (6m)
  • Charlie on the Ocean (1921) newsreel (4m)
  • Footage of Chaplin conducting his 1972 score for The Kid (2m)
  • Nice and Friendly (1922) (11m)
  • 3 Trailers (3m)
  • Audio: LPCM 1.0
  • 12-page leaflet

Blu-rayDVD | Amazon Video


The Gold Rush (1925)

Criterion's The Gold Rush Blu-ray: the only way to acquire the original 1925 version in HD

Criterion’s The Gold Rush Blu-ray: the only way to acquire the original 1925 version in HD

Blu-ray: region A, all extras in HD / DVD: region 1, SD video/Dolby Digital audio | Amazon Video

  • Feature runtime: 1942 version: 72:24; 1925 version: 89:14
  • Audio commentary on the 1925 version by Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance
  • Presenting The Gold Rush featurette (16m)
  • A Time of Innovation: Visual Effects in The Gold Rush featurette (19m)
  • Music by Charles Chaplin featurette (25m)
  • Chaplin Today: The Gold Rush featurette (27m)
  • Four trailers from England, France, Germany and the Netherlands (9m)
  • Audio: 1942 version: English LPCM 1.0 mono; 1925 version: DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround (Timothy Brock orchestral score, based on Chaplin’s score for the 1942 version)
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • 24-page booklet

Blu-rayDVD | Amazon Video


The Circus (1928)

The Circus (1928, dir. Charlie Chaplin) US Criterion Blu-ray

Blu-ray: region A, all extras in HD / DVD: region 1, SD video/Dolby Digital audio

  • Feature runtime: 72:43
  • Audio commentary by Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance
  • 1969 Chaplin interview (5min)
  • New interview with Chaplin’s son, Eugene (15min)
  • In the Service of the Story featurette (21min)
  • Chaplin Today: The Circus featurette (27min)
  • 1998 audio interview with Chaplin musical associate Eric James (10min)
  • Unused café sequence with Timothy Brock score and related outtakes with narration by comedy choreographer Dan Kamin (7min)
    • Newly discovered outtakes and rushes featuring the Tramp and the circus rider (10 and 30min)
  • “Swing Little Girl” opening song recording session excerpts (5min)
  • 1928 Hollywood première footage (7min)
  • Re-release trailers (5min)
  • Audio: LPCM 1.0
  • Leaflet with essay by film critic Pamela Hutchinson

Blu-rayDVD | Amazon Video


City Lights (1931)

City Lights (1931) Charlie Chaplin, Criterion US Blu-ray/DVD set

Blu-ray: region A, all extras in HD / DVD: region 1, SD video/Dolby Digital audio
  • Feature runtime: 86:47
  • Audio commentary by Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance
  • Chaplin Studios: Creative Freedom by Design featurette (16m)
  • From the Set of City Lights archival footage:
    • The Tramp Meets the Flower Girl on set footage – with audio commentary by Chaplin historian Hooman Mehran (9m)
    • Stick Stuck in the Grate outtake (7m)
    • Window Shopping rehearsal (1m)
    • The Duke (Dream Prince) outtake costume test (1m)
  • Chaplin Today: City Lights featurette (27m)
  • Chaplin the Boxer:The Champion (1915) excerpt (9m)
  • Boxing Stars Visit the Studio (5m)
  • Three trailers from the US, France and Germany (9m)
  • Audio: LPCM 1.0 mono
  • 40-page booklet

City Lights was initially issued as a Blu-ray/DVD dual format set, as Criterion were experimenting with the practise at the time. However, they soon dropped the idea and it was reissued as separate discs.

Blu-rayDVD | Amazon Video


Modern Times (1936)

Modern Times (1936) Charlie Chaplin, Criterion US Blu-ray

Blu-ray: region A, all extras in HD / DVD: region 1, SD video/Dolby Digital audio
  • Feature runtime: 87:17
  • Audio commentary by David Robinson,  Chaplin biographer
  • Modern Times: A Closer Look featurette (17m)
  • Silent Traces: Modern Times featurette (15m)
  • A Bucket of Water and a Glass Matte featurette (20m)
  • David Raksin and the Score interview (16m)
  • Movie excerpt with isolated music score (9m)
  • Crossing the Street outtake (2m)
  • Nonsense Song (complete version with final verse intact) outtake (4m)
  • All at Sea home movie footage (18m)
  • Interview with Alistair Cooke’s daughter, Susan Cooke Kittredge (13m)
  • The Rink (1918) (24m)
  • Por Primera Vez featurette (9m)
  • Chaplin Today: Modern Times featurette (26m)
  • Three trailers from the US, France and Germany (8m)
  • Audio: LPCM 1.0 mono
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Timeline feature (Blu-ray only)
  • 40-page booklet

Blu-rayDVD | Amazon Video

Process: Modern Times Criterion sleeve


The Great Dictator (1940)

(1940)

The Great Dictator (1940) Charlie Chaplin, Criterion US Blu-ray

Blu-ray: region A, all extras in HD / DVD: region 1, SD video/Dolby Digital audio
  • Feature runtime: 125:35
  • Audio commentary by Chaplin experts Dan Kamin and Hooman Mehran
  • The Tramp and the Dictator documentary (55m)
  • Chaplin’s Napoleon and the Great Dictator visual essay (19m)
  • The Clowns Turn to Prophet visual essay (21m)
  • The Production Filmed in Color by Syd Chaplin (27m)
  • King, Queen, Joker (1921) Syd Chaplin short (5m)
  • Sunnyside (1919) excerpt: Charlie the Barber (8m)
  • Trailer (2m)
  • Soundtrack: English LPCM 1.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • 30-page booklet

Blu-rayDVD | Amazon Video

Adenoid Hynkel’s balloon dance | The Great Dictator: Two Shaves


Monsieur Verdoux (1947)

Monsieur Verdoux (1947) Charlie Chaplin, Criterion US Blu-ray

Blu-ray: region A, all extras in HD / DVD: region 1, SD video/Dolby Digital audio
  • Feature runtime: 124.25
  • Chaplin Today: Monsieur Verdoux featurette (27m)
  • Charlie Chaplin and the American Press featurette (25m)
  • Illustrated audio interview with co-star Marilyn Nash (8m)
  • Radio ads: A Modern French Bluebeard; This Merchant of Death; A Warning; For Women Without a Sense of Humor; Lady, Can You Take a Dare?; The Top Picture of the Year; The Suave, Sinister Lady-Killer and Remember: It’s a Comedy (6m)
  • Trailers: US, France and Germany (9m)
  • Audio: LPCM 1.0 mono
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • 38-page booklet

Blu-rayDVD | Amazon Video


Limelight (1952)

Limelight (1952) Charlie Chaplin, Criterion US Blu-ray

Blu-ray: region A, all extras in HD / DVD: region 1, SD video/Dolby Digital audio
  • Feature runtime: 137:51
  • Chaplin’s Limelight: Its Evolution and Intimacy video essay by David RobinsonChaplin’s foremost biographer (21m)
  • Interviews: co-star Claire Bloom (16m), actor Norman Lloyd (15m)
  • Chaplin Today: Limelight featurette (27m)
  • Audio of Chaplin reading two short excerpts from his Limelight origin novella, Footlights (2m)
  • A Night in the Show (1915) (25m)
  • The Professor (uncompleted, 1919) (6m)
  • Limelight outtake (5m)
  • Trailers: US and Italian (4m)
  • Audio: LPCM 1.0 mono
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • 40-page booklet

Blu-rayDVD | Amazon Video

Claire Bloom on Charlie Chaplin


For more information on Chaplin’s worldwide DVD and Blu-ray output, see:

To see how these stack up against other editions, check out DVDCompare.

2 Comments

  1. JC Vela
    September 03, 23:50 Reply
    Thank you for this amazing insight on Chaplin's film collections. One question? What happened to the Idle Class film? It seems is not in any of the Bluray collections, only a couple of bad quality DVDs.
    • Brent Reid
      September 04, 00:13 Reply
      There are many licensed and restored releases of The Idle Class. In addition to being included with Artificial Eye's BD and DVD of Modern Times, it appears in most releases of the Chaplin Revue. They're all detailed in parts 7 and 8 of the Chaplin Collectors' Guide. Criterion will eventually release it in similar fashion.

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