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Charles Chaplin was deep into production of his silent City Lights when Hollywood was overwhelmed by the talkie revolution. After months of anguished contemplation, Chaplin decided to finish the film as it began--in silence, save for a musical score and an occasional sound effect. Once again cast as the Little Tramp, Chaplin makes the acquaintance of a blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill), who through a series of coincidences has gotten the impression that the shabby tramp is a millionaire. A second storyline begins when the tramp rescues a genuine millionaire (Harry Myers) from committing suicide. When drunk, the millionaire expansively treats the tramp as a friend and equal; when sober, he doesn't even recognize him. The two plots come together when the tramp attempts to raise enough money for the blind girl to have an eye operation. Highlights include an extended boxing sequence pitting scrawny Chaplin against muscle-bound Hank Mann, and the poignant final scene in which the now-sighted flower girl sees her impoverished benefactor for the first time. Chaplin's decision to release the silent City Lights three years into the talkie era was partially vindicated when more than one critic singled out this "comedy in pantomime" as the best picture of 1931.
- Release Date:
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- [Dolby Digital Mono]
Cast & Crew
|Charles Chaplin||The Tramp|
|Virginia Cherrill||The Blind Girl|
|Harry Myers||The Millionaire|
|Allan Garcia||The Millionaire's Butler|
|Hank Mann||The Boxer|
|Florence Lee||Blind Girl's Grandmother|
|Stanhope Wheatcroft||Man in Cafe|
|Jack Sutherland||Party Guest|
|Charles Chaplin||Director,Score Composer,Editor,Producer,Screenwriter|
|Albert Austin||Asst. Director,Screenwriter|
|Henry Bergman||Asst. Director,Screenwriter|
|Harry Crocker||Asst. Director,Screenwriter|
|Carl Davis||Musical Direction/Supervision|
|Charles Hall||Art Director|
|Alfred Newman||Score Composer|
|Roland H. "Rollie" Totheroh||Cinematographer|
1. Civic Pride [4:58]
2. Window-Shopping [2:09]
3. A Flower Girl [4:22]
4. Lifesaver [4:36]
5. "I'll Live!" [4:41]
6. Burning Up the Town [6:17]
7. "Am I Driving?" [7:04]
8. A Different Man [3:32]
9. Party for the Tramp [4:21]
10. The Morning After [4:00]
11. Odd Job [4:49]
12. Lunch With a Millionaire [5:30]
13. Easy Money [6:45]
14. Not So Easy [6:30]
15. Money For the Girl [7:10]
16. "This Is For Your Eyes" [3:27]
17. A Flower Shop [6:20]
1. Color Bars [:20]
1. "The Landscape Had Changed" [6:29]
2. Playing With the Human Body [3:23]
3. Meeting the Flower Girl [2:22]
4. Gentleman Tramp [3:33]
5. Boxing Scene [5:04]
6. The Final Scene [5:53]
Play The Movie
This Audio Commentary Features Charlie Chaplin Biographer Jeffrey Vance, Author of Chaplin: Genius of the Cinema, and was Recorded by the Criterion Collection in 2013. To Listen to the Commentary While Viewing the Movie, Press the Audio Key On Your Remote at Any Time
Chaplin Today: "City Lights"
Chaplin Studios: Creative Freedom by Design
From the Set of City Lights
The Tramp Meets the Flower Girl
Stick Stuck in the Grate
Chaplin the Boxer
Boxing Stars Visit the Studio
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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"City Lights" is truly one of the greatest films ever made. Chaplin's mastery of pantomime, combined with an ingenious plot, provides us a film that resonates with us still. This film has laughs and packs an emotional wallop that will leave you in tears of happiness.
Let me join the consensus and call Charlie Chaplin¿s ¿City Lights¿ a masterpiece. It¿s only 81 minutes long, but they are among the best 81 minutes you could spend at the movies, and the last five minutes are simply exquisite. Simply keep your Kleenex box at arm¿s length as I doubt if there has been a more honest heartbreaking scene captured on film. When the formerly blind girl gives the Little Tramp a flower and ultimately says ¿Yes, I can see now¿, the scene takes on such emotional gravity as to defy explanation. Chaplin was at his zenith in 1928 when he took more than two years to develop and film this story, and the Little Tramp had already been a familiar character to audiences for over a decade. He had already made ¿The Gold Rush¿ (1925) and ¿The Circus¿ (1928) starring his character, both classics, so it¿s obvious he felt a need to take a somewhat different direction and explore an opportunity to deepen the character this time. The advent of talkies didn't stop Chaplin from making this ¿Comedy Romance in Pantomime¿ (as he subtitled it), as he knew giving the Little Tramp a voice would limit his character¿s appeal as a universal character. What I particularly enjoyed in this film is how the Little Tramp fancies himself as a well-mannered gentleman in spite of all the circumstances that bring him down, even going to prison for love. It is this self-delusion and his subsequent mistaken identity as a millionaire that leads him to the blind flower girl, played in an effectively plaintive manner by Virginia Cherrill. Her performance is a greatly underrated element in this film, as she displays the right amount of vacant innocence to make the last minutes so memorable. Simply compare her to the screen test shown of Georgia Hale, Chaplin¿s leading lady in 'The Gold Rush' and an obviously more experienced actress than Cherrill, who struggles to show the right balance between condescension and beatific revelation when she realize the Little Tramp is the ¿wealthy¿ gentleman who paid for the restoration of her sight. Of course, this would not be a Chaplin film without the brilliance of his comedy routines and there is a treasure trove of classic scenes ¿ the rising and lowering of the street elevator, the shifting musical chairs scene at the nightclub, the mock suicide at the canal and especially the boxing scene, which has been imitated so many lesser filmmakers (and was according to the footage included as a DVD extra, inspired by an earlier Chaplin short ¿The Champion¿ from 1915). Even a simple moment like when the Little Tramp mistakes a piece of thread from his vest for a ball of twine is impressive for the sheer delicacy of the moment. And special mention needs to go to Chaplin¿s musical score, where he beautifully interweaves José Padilla¿s 'La Violetta' as his love theme. The transfer to DVD is very good, and the 2-DVD set also has plenty of extras, though they are of variable interest. The Serge Bromberg documentary is quite interesting, as is the footage of Chaplin from a Vienna press tour since it captures the long-forgotten worldwide frenzy he created back then. The aforementioned Georgia Hale screen test is very interesting but runs on a bit too long. The 10-minute home movie of his trip to Bali has a certain anthropological interest but seems rather pointless otherwise. Regardless, the movie itself is rewarding enough and an exquisite jewel that completely justifies Chaplin¿s reputation as one of the world¿s leading filmmakers.
Not only did Chaplin star in this film, also wrote, directed and composed the music. The story is so perfectly developed in silence that the first two times I viewed it, I couldn't see the final five minutes through my tears, even though I knew what was going to happen.
The golden years of Charlie. Unsurpassed by any other comedian. Silent makes it one of a kind.
After watching this film, I realized I had just experienced one of the most remarkable moments of cinema at its finest. This is absolutely Charlie Chaplins finest hour and one of my favorite films of all time. It is one of the greatest comedies I have ever seen in my life. The end was heartbreaking and sad. This is one of the greatest American films ever made.
This is not Chaplin's best film, but it is definitely up there. It is heartwarming, but still one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. The ending is one of the best ever caught on film.
I made the pre-order for this item on 8 Nov., but B&N have postponed the shipping, and I have not received the item yet. B&N says that they have shipped the item on 7 Dec by international Priority Airmail , which usually takes 4-14 business days to Japan. This can't be a "service", can it be? I can not review the item which I have not received, so I rate the service of B&N instead.