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City Lights
Drama, Romance, Comedy
IMDB rating:
Charles Chaplin
Virginia Cherrill as A Blind Girl
Florence Lee as The Blind Girl's Grandmother
Harry Myers as An Eccentric Millionaire
Al Ernest Garcia as The Eccentric Millionaire's Butler (as Allan Garcia)
Hank Mann as A Prizefighter
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.
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
HQ DVD-rip 720x480 px 1180 Mb mpeg4 1753 Kbps avi Download
DVD-rip 576x416 px 701 Mb h264 1184 Kbps avi Download
a daring masterpiece
Say what you want about his politics, his love life, his Victorian sentiment, or his overwhelming ego; if Charlie Chaplin had never made another film he would still be justifiably famous, not only for creating a masterpiece, but for single-handedly keeping the art of silent comedy alive long after its untimely death. It's ironic how the passing of silence liberated Chaplin to a point where he could fully express his pantomime genius and find, at long last, the elusive tertium quid between laughter and tears. Was there ever a more unpredictable companion than millionaire Harry Myers, matching the Little Tramp drink for drink until the sober light of dawn revealed the callous Jekyll behind his generous Hyde? And was there ever a more heartbreaking moment than the final, devastating close-up, when the once blind flower girl confronts the shabby vagabond she thought was her handsome young benefactor? "I can see now", her poignant last words, leave more unsaid than Chaplin would later be in the habit of leaving, and however unintended reveal striking insight at a time when every other movie was saying, "I can hear now".
If I could add another star or two.
Well into the beginning of the sound- and "talkie" movies era, Charles Chaplin made another silent movie, though with a musical soundtrack, also written by Chaplin.It was to be his perhaps greatest film of all, though it's hard to put it above both Modern Times and The Great Dictator. Like in others of his masterpieces it's hard if not impossible not to be emotionally moved. Tragedy and comedy is woven together at it's highest level of performance.

I won't review the film any more than the above, but would like to make a general statement on the greatest film personality of all times. In 1999 The American Film Institute somehow managed to rank Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, James Stuart, Marlon Brando, Fred Astaire, Henry Fonda, Clark Gable, James Cagney and Spencer Tracy above Charlie Chaplin on the List Of Greatest Screen Legends. With all due respect of the nine mentioned, but placing Chaplin as No.10 is a meaningless parody of disgrace. Not only is he in a class of his own, he was perhaps more than anyone else responsible for making their stardom possible.

Thank You!
You can't go wrong with Charlie Chaplin, but City Lights is even better than Chaplin's films usually are.
Chaplin takes himself a little more seriously in City Lights, and the results are spectacular. The musical score which Chaplin composed for the film was one of the many highlights, and even though Charlie's performance is much more dramatic than usual in some scenes, the hilarious comedy for which he is known and loved is still abundant.

City Lights is so well made that it is one of the very few movies in which the obvious flaws can be gladly overlooked. Yes, you can clearly see the string holding Chaplin up in the sidesplittingly funny boxing scene, but who cares? That is such classic slapstick that little things like that really don't matter. Besides, let's keep in mind that this movie was made seventy years ago.

Chaplin does a phenomenal job in his traditional role of the tramp, and develops a perfectly convincing romantic relationship with the blind flower girl on the sidewalk. His friendship with the drunken rich guy is hilarious, but it also makes a significant comment about the problems of alcohol. This is truly a great film, which should not be forgotten.
A Chaplin classic
A Charlie Chaplin classic. But then, many of his movies are classics, and rightfully so.

Has the usual Chaplin traits: fantastic, ingenious, ultra-creative visual comedy, plus a great emotional angle.

The comedy is brilliant. Some of the scenes are iconic, and have been copied by many great movie makers.

Where this differs from his previous movies is that the drama side gets more weight than before. After the almost-continuous comedy of The Circus, his previous movie, the lulls in comedy found in City Lights to advance the plot and develop the characters come as a bit of a shock. Even a let-down. But they are worth it, as the movie builds up to an incredibly emotional final scene. Plus the breaks from the comedy make the comedic scenes even more impactful.

An absolute must-see.
Another gem from a hard nosed genius.
Charlie Chaplin,I have heard through various sources,was a hard nosed perfectionist to the point of being downright disliked by some.He was not only the main star of his feature films,he was the creative mastermind behind the scenes as well.He wrote as well as directed.I have a hard time with anyone that difficult and based on what I have learned,probably would not have gotten along with Mr. Chaplin.Even so,I feel that his films are regarded as great because of his hard nosed attitude.Everything had to be perfect and everyone involved must know it.City Lights is another gem born of this hard nosed genius.We have our beloved little tramp making the acquaintance of a blind flower girl.Their meeting is comical,yet sweet.He falls in love immediately as does she.Through his comical,alcohol induced friendship with a millionaire who is down with life,he finds himself taking on the appearance that he is wealthy when he,in fact,is not.His love for this girl runs so deep that he is willing to do anything for her.Anything,that is,except reveal to this girl what he is in reality,fearing her love would fade.City Lights is another masterpiece of comedy laced with tender romantic sweetness from Charlie Chaplin,the hard nosed perfectionist.
Classic Chaplin
City Lights is simply put one of the best movies out there. Every scene is classic and had a huge impact on the history of film-making. Chaplin's last 'silent' film tells the story of a poor little man the tramp played by Chaplin who falls in love with a blind flower girl. He becomes friends with a wealthy man who constantly tries to commit suicide. The man only recognizes the tramp character when he is drunk. To impress the flower girl the tramp uses the man's wealth to make her fall in love with him. The only problem is that when the man is sober he doesn't recognize the tramp anymore. On top of this the flower girl has to pay 22 dollars of rent or she will be thrown out of her apartment. Now the tramp desperately seeks for jobs in the city to help his love. Out of this simple plot great comedy and heart breaking moments come forth.

The outcome of the movie is to almost all people known. It is regarded as one of the best endings ever taped on film. The movie itself still is masterpiece more than 70 years after it's release. I personally rate this as Chaplin's second best I have seen so far. My favorite remains The Gold Rush. Still this movie gets 5/5 stars from me.
A truly marvellous film, one to watch over and over again (as I have) and not tire of. If I remember right Chaplin basically made it up as he went along, with only the bones of the story and the ending in mind, tens of thousands of scene retakes later. This put the lid on silent films for good, CL could not have been bettered if they'd tried - and Chaplin did of course but failed with Modern Times.

There's so many gags in CL it's pointless to pick any one out - the boxing match hardly counts as a gag, more a work of art - overall it's a relentless 80 minutes, the usual Chaplin roller-coaster of emotion. The dedicated know all this, the ones who only like violent colour talkies will scoff after having wasted their time trying to understand why this movie is so highly regarded. I wonder if they switch off before the end?

The original for the set for the outside the blind girl's home still exists in Lambeth today, along of course with many other surviving places of Chaplin interest.
"Tomorrow the birds will sing"
The victory of the sound picture over the silent was a speedy and decisive one. The first full-length talkies were released in 1928. By 1929 theatres were being forced to convert to sound in order to stay in business. By 1930 silent film production by the major studios was completely discontinued and the medium became generally viewed as an anachronism. But in 1931 a new silent picture was released that, far from being an embarrassing failure, became the fourth-highest grossing picture of the year, being even more popular than such classics as the Bela Lugosi Dracula and The Public Enemy. The picture was City Lights and its producer, writer, director, editor, composer and star was Mr Charlie Chaplin.

Chaplin was of course primarily a comedian, and his humour was of broad appeal, but audiences of the time were not exactly starved of easy comedy. The Marx Brothers were making great strides on the verbal quipping front, and the ever-popular Laurel and Hardy had made a successful transition to sound. What makes Charlie stand out, and what gave him a level of accessibility that allowed him to continue with his slapstick antics well into the sound era, is his equal devotion to story which allowed him a scope for social commentary, empathetic characterisation and deep poignancy. Of all Chaplin's silent pictures, City Lights is probably his least memorable in the funny stakes. The number of classic gags here is fairly small. Not since The Kid a decade earlier has Chaplin given story so much precedence. City Lights is riddled with coincidence and plot contrivance, but it's a tale of such beauty and sincerity that this does not matter. Within this story, the comedy becomes functional, often serving to puncture a schmaltzy moment before it becomes overdone. Ironically it is the occasional forays into slapstick that help keep City Lights real.

As if to snub the talkie, City Lights is a remarkable achievement in complex visual narrative, even only occasionally relying upon title cards and then often only as an embellishment to the more comedy-driven moments. Most plot points and character traits are implied rather than stated, which gives the picture a continual smoothness – another thing that would have gone down well with audiences glad to see the back of the intrusive title card. Out of necessity Chaplin's technical approach is more overt than his usual. He often cuts to a close-up to give us a necessary reaction, and there are even some whip-pans in the scene where he and the flower girl first meet, but all of this is in keeping with the rhythm and tone of the picture. Those whip pans after all reflect an abrupt emotional moment, and are in no way a blatant or showy manoeuvre.

But what really makes City Lights work, what makes it connect, is the man himself on the screen. Those additional close-ups, once a rarity for a man who acted mainly with his body, now show off a capability for intense facial acting. An older, more meditative Chaplin may have been keeping the traditions of silent cinema alive, but his own career trajectory was entering new ground, where emotional expression was increasingly intimate and personal. The result is profoundly moving.
Major continuity issue...
... it's perhaps a test of a person's outlook to ask them what they see in the final scene. If they've never seen City Lights before and they instantly notice the major continuity issue (Chaplin holds a flower to his lapel from the rear shot, it's up to his mouth on his close up) then maybe they've placed film studies over romance.

It took a few viewings before I spotted this, and once I did I can't help but notice it. Yet even despite this, I never fail to get choked up on the beauty of that final scene. If you want to impress the right kind of girl, put it on and show her what a sensitive soul you are during those final moments.

As for the rest of the film, then while the final five minutes are classic and perhaps the best thing Chaplin ever did, the rest of it is episodic and patchy, necessitating my relatively low score. Still a fine film, but never a completely great one, what presages those beautiful final moments is merely fine entertainment.
A classic film made with love and precision
Film has become a medium that is strongly influenced by nostalgia. Old films have become journeys to the past; ways to visit times and people that no longer are. Since film is an art that is based on the innovation of previous works, it has an element of nostalgia in its foundation. We look on the old to find what elements should make up the new. In City Lights, and other silent works of film, a passion emerges that is uniquely honest and sincere. While watching the film, I was impressed that Chaplin really did love the story, the sets, the crew; the whole project. While this may not have been the complete reality, it felt that way, and thus made the film more enjoyable. In silent films the audience is forced to be completely reliable on the visual elements of the film; there are no elaborate sound effects or dialogue to provoke an emotional response.

Since film is at its very core a visual medium, I find silent films to be the basic form of the medium. I don't use the word basic here in a demeaning sense, but I compare the beauty of silent films to the beauty of early European art, before the concept of perspective was developed in the Renaissance. Many books and tomes featured people as tall as the castles they stood in; these works of art were not technologically advanced, but they were, and are, beautiful. The same example is found when comparing early darreographs of wild animals to contemporary photographs found in National Geographic. There is a warmth found in City Lights, and other Chaplin films (The Kid, Modern Times) that would be lost in the sea of cinematic technology that floods films today. Maybe it's just that with simplicity comes honesty, and honesty is perhaps the most powerful emotion that can cross through the screen and be felt by the viewer.
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