Monday, December 28, 2009

57. City Lights (1931)

Running Time: 87 minutes
Directed By: Charles Chaplin
Written By: Charles Chaplin
Main Cast: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Harry Myers


With the emergence of talking pictures, it is said that Charlie Chaplin agonized over the production of "City Lights", a film that could've have been his first talking film, but one that ultimately stayed in line with other Chaplin works and remained silent and still fantastic!

Charlie returns to the big screen as the Little Tramp, and doesn't waste too much time running into a beautiful, blind flower-seller on the street corner. The Tramp is captivated by her beauty and stunned when he realizes that she's blind. He buys a flower and moves on, not quite sure if he'll ever see her again.

A little later in the film The Tramp runs into a man on the verge of suicide because his wife has just left him. While he is intoxicated, the man tries to tether himself to a boulder and hurl himself into the river, only to be stopped by The Tramp. With a new zest for life, thanks to the little fellow, he declares the Tramp his new best friend and immediately takes him out for a night on the town, where the Tramp soon finds out he's a millionaire. The next morning when the man awakes, and the Tramp comes calling at his door, the millionaire cannot remember the previous night and therefore cannot remember the Tramp. This is a running plot point throughout the picture, as everytime the man is drunk he knows and loves the Tramp, but as soon as he sobers up, the kind little fellow is a stranger to him.

After numerous further meetings with the blind girl, the Tramp learns that she is very poor and on the cusp of being kicked from her home by her landlord. The Tramp tells her not to worry and promises to return with the funds to save her home. The Tramp takes on a few jobs, including that of a boxer, which provided me with my favorite moment of the entire film, as Chaplin participates in a very well choreographed and hilarious boxing match, with a much bigger and much stronger fellow. As always I certainly won't spoil the ending, but this flick is certainly worth a rent to check out the fantastic open ending and all the rest for that matter.

Along with the boxing sequence, this film provides countless other hilarious and memorable moments: Charlie getting a piece of streamer caught up in his plate of spaghetti and not realizing it as he slurps up his noodles, Charlie swallowing a whistle right as an important party goer is about to give a speech and Charlie final encounter with the blind girl, which provides us, not with a funny moment, but a very romantic and heartwarming one. I liked this movie more than I liked "The Gold Rush" and while I would call them both great films, I still felt myself missing Buster Keaton, as I watched "City Lights". Although, Charlie Chaplin was his own man and did his own things, which were much different than Keaton.

RATING: 8/10 First instinct of a rating was to go with an '8', and as always that's what I went with.

NEXT UP: The Public Enemy...James Cagney enters the stage!! Not expecting anymore films from Netflix until Wednesday, so I'll see 'ya then.

December 27, 2009 10:49pm


  1. I guess there will always be a divide between the love Chaplin people and the 'He's over sentimental' ones, and there is no point trying to explain one to the other. I've probabl said before, I'm much more a Keaton fan, but I'm very much looking forward to the couple of Harold Lloyd films on the last coming fro Love Film... I think I will like those.

  2. I definitely like Keaton more, although I'd say that "Modern Times" would be ONE OF the best films I've watched from the book thus far. Harold Lloyd is good too, check out my review for "The Kid Brother", funny film that I may have undercut a little due to the fact that I was watching a lot of Keaton around that time.

  3. I finally caught up with you and Ray on this one and finished off the silent comedies (although I still have 7 silents to see from the list). I thought this was the most moving of the silent comedies and my favorite Chaplin. I agree with you both, though, that Keaton is better overall.

  4. Yeah, overall I just fell in love with Keaton instantly, while Chaplin took some warming too. Actually liked this Chaplin the least, although a rewatch is in order.


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