A tramp falls in love with a beautiful blind girl. Her family is in financial trouble. The tramp's on-and-off friendship with a wealthy man allows him to be the girl's benefactor and suitor.Written by
John J. Magee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies. See more »
(at around 39 mins) When the Tramp accidentally swallows the whistle, his real eyebrows are visible beneath his fake ones. This was done intentionally to give him a lopsided, intoxicated facial expression. See more »
In 1989, Roy Export Company Establishment copyrighted a version with new opening credits, and with Chaplin's score musically directed by and conducted by Carl Davis. The original opening credit of Alfred Newman as the musical director was replaced by "musical direction by Carl Davis." In addition, end credits were added listing those filmmakers and companies involved in the new recording of Chaplin's score in 1988. See more »
Waddling along with his cane and derby hat, and that tiny mustache, the little tramp (Charles Chaplin) is visually unlike any character in film history. The tramp is kind-hearted, always dignified. He's a simple soul who in "City Lights" tries to help out a young blind woman (well played by Virginia Cherrill). This is a silent film, of course, but the tramp's body language is his speech.
The really noticeable feature of the tramp character is how he blends into everyday life. He's more or less ignored by many, laughed at by others. The girl's grandmother never "sees" him at all. And only when the millionaire is drunk does he "see" the tramp as a friend. Curious ... and deep.
The tramp gets into his fair share of trouble, but only through his bumbling efforts to help the girl. The boxing match is a hoot, and very well choreographed, as are all the skits. And what a beginning for a film, with city leaders spouting gibberish, probably as Chaplin's dig at the "talkies". Then the way Chaplin makes his grand entrance ... just terrific!
Melancholy at times, the film's music really tugs at your heartstrings. Maybe it's sentimental and manipulative. But given the abiding and Zen-like qualities of the tramp, some sentimentality is quite appropriate. And the music is choreographed totally in sync with the plot action.
Production design is sparse and at times drab. That the film was made during the Great Depression is beyond obvious.
Comedy here is simple and effective. The main character expresses heart and humanity. The little tramp is an unforgettable character. And "City Lights" is a wonderful film.
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