City Lights

( 10 )


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 ...
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Blu-ray (Black & White / Bonus DVD)
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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.
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Special Features

New digital restoration from a 4K film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray; New audio commentary by Charlie Chaplin biographer Jeffrey Vance; Chaplin Today: "City Lights," a 2003 documentary on the film, featuring Aardman Animations co-founder Peter Lord; Chaplin Studios: Creative Freedom by Design, a new interview program featuring visual effects expert Craig Barron; Archival footage from the production of City Lights, including film from the set, with audio commentary by Chaplin historian Hooman Mehran; a costume test; a rehearsal; and a complete scene not used in the film; Excerpt from Chaplin's short film The Champion (1915), along with footage of the director with boxing stars at Chaplin Studios in 1918; Trailers; One Blu-ray and one DVD, with all content available in both forms; Plus: a booklet featuring an essay by critic Gary Giddins and a 1966 interview with Chaplin
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
Many critics consider City Lights to be Charles Chaplin's finest film, no small accomplishment considering his long string of great films. The film is a Chaplin tour-de-force, as he has his hand in almost every aspect of its production. He co-wrote, produced, directed, scored and edited the film. Unwilling to bend to the winds of change, which saw the introduction of the spoken word in movies three years earlier, Chaplin's is a silent film. However, he does use music and sound effects cleverly throughout, even employing them pointedly to satirize "the talkies." Other familiar targets are the hypocrisy, prissiness, and arrogance of wealthy "polite society" and cruelty to society's less fortunate, lovable outcasts like The Little Tramp himself. Of course, Chaplin's physical comedy is riotously funny. He dances along the highwire between hilarity and disaster with aplomb. All the while, Chaplin's Little Tramp maintains his dignity and sense of fair play. City Lights's parallel plot lines unfold effectively, as the storyline involving The Little Tramp and the suicidal millionaire presages themes developed more fully in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life. The pathos-ridden love story with the blind flower girl plays on universal themes, such as the intoxicating blindness of love and the rejuvenating power of selflessness. A graceful, athletic artist of pantomime, Chaplin's Little Tramp moves effortlessly between figures of destitution and wealth, aiding and abetting all around him. City Lights is a paean to our best impulses, a plea for humanitarianism and justice. Most important, it is the work of a master craftsman, in full control of his craft.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/12/2013
  • UPC: 715515111119
  • Original Release: 1931
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1A
  • Presentation: Black & White / Bonus DVD
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:26:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 7,552

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
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
Albert Austin Street-cleaner
Henry Bergman Mayor, Janitor
James Donnelly Foreman
Jean Harlow Guest
John Rand Tramp
Stanhope Wheatcroft Man in Cafe
Robert Parrish
Eddie Baker
Jack Sutherland Party Guest
Technical Credits
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
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- City Lights
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]
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Disc #1 -- City Lights
   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
         Commentary: On
         Commentary: Off
      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
         Window-Shopping Rehearsal
         The Duke
      Chaplin the Boxer
         The Champion
         Boxing Stars Visit the Studio
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    Rating is for the service of B&N (rating for the film itself is 5 star!)

    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.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2013

    A not to be missed film

    "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.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Real Gem. Charlie at its best. A must for collectors

    The golden years of Charlie. Unsurpassed by any other comedian. Silent makes it one of a kind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Charlie Chaplins masterpiece

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Chaplin┬┐s Masterpiece┬┐and Oh Those Last Five Minutes!

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Not Chaplin's best film? One of the greatest US films ever

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2002

    One of the Greatest Films Ever

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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