Limelight is the first film in which Chaplin’s own music and lyrics came together to the cinema screen. Chaplin plays a once famous music hall artist - who dreams at night of the songs he performed in the past. The flea circus idea is one that Chaplin envisaged as early as 1919 in a film called “The Professor” that was never released. We hear Animal Trainer twice in Limelight - once in a dream, which turns into a nightmare as his character Calvero realises the theatre is completely empty, and secondly, to much applause, at the gala performance arranged in his honour at the end of the film.
Music and Lyrics by Charles Chaplin
I’m an animal trainer
A circus entertainer
I’ve trained animals by the score
Lions, tigers and wild boar.
I’ve made and lost a fortune
In my wild career.
Some say the cause was women
And some say it was beer.
Then I went through bankruptcy
And lost my whole menagerie
But I did not despair.
I got a bright idea.
While searching through my underwear
A thought occurred to me
I’m tired of training elephants
So why not train a flea?
Why should I hunt for animals
And through the jungle roam
When there’s local talent
To be found right here at home?
I found one but I won’t say where
And educated him with care.
And taught him all the facts of life
And then he found himself a wife.
I give them board and lodgings free
And every night they dine off me
They don’t eat caviar or cake
But they enjoy a good rump steak
Off my anatomy (bis).
It is an odd sensation
When after meals they take a stroll
Around the old plantation.
Now I’m as happy as can be
I’ve bought them lots of tricks you see
And now they’re both supporting me
They’re both supporting me.
Walk up, walk up
I’m the greatest show on earth
Walk up, walk up
And get your money’s worth
See Phyllis and Henry
Those educated fleas
Cavorting and sporting
On the flying trapeze
So any time you itch
Don’t scratch or make a fuss
You never can tell you might destroy
Some budding genius.
©Copyright 1954 by Bourne Co. Copyright Renewed. All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured