Hugo, a Scorsese film that came out in early 2012 features one of the best homages to the on screen clowns of silent era comedy and beyond. Sacha Baron Cohen shows his penchant for play and sharpness for character as the station master. Unfortunately it is very difficult to find a clip of any substance, showing his physical genius online, so I suppose you will just have to go and rent it out.
I came out of the film and wrote a review on my blog:
Sacha Baron Cohen’s mastery of the tradgy-clown is unbearably satisfying as he runs around with a prosthetic limb and avenges his own torturous upbringing by catching ragamuffins and bussing them off to the local orphanage. -These brilliantly played out scenes are an ode to the theatricality of the silent era, referencing many of the greats, such as Charlie Chaplin’s run in with the police as Hugo runs through the doors of the train to the other side (See at around 32 mins of the movie Police). –
But now I am thinking about it again and Buster Keaton’s obsession with mechanics seems to fit with the theme. There are probably lots of clues that somebody better versed at this than me would pick up but I am always so impressed with Cohen’s sense of clown as play. As demonstrated in this interview: