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City Lights (1931)

With the aid of a wealthy erratic tippler, a dewy-eyed tramp who has fallen in love with a sightless flower girl accumulates money to be able to help her medically.

Director:

Charles Chaplin

Writer:

Charles Chaplin
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Virginia Cherrill ... A Blind Girl
Florence Lee Florence Lee ... The Blind Girl's Grandmother
Harry Myers ... An Eccentric Millionaire
Al Ernest Garcia ... James - the Millionaire's Butler (as Allan Garcia)
Hank Mann ... A Prizefighter
Charles Chaplin ... A Tramp (as Charlie Chaplin)
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Storyline

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 <magee@helix.mgh.harvard.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

HE RETURNS -And the world rocks again with laughter. (Print Ad-Daily Examiner, ((Grafton, NSW)) 6 July 1931)

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 March 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

City Lights: A Comedy Romance in Pantomime See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$19,181, 6 July 2007
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent | Mono (musical score)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies. See more »

Goofs

(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 »

Quotes

Eccentric Millionaire: James - the Rolls-Royce. We'll burn up the town!
See more »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Referenced in The Producers (1967) See more »

Soundtracks

La Violetera
Composed by José Padilla
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Zen-Like Little Tramp
10 May 2009 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

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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