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City Lights
Year:
1931
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama, Romance, Comedy
IMDB rating:
8.5
Director:
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
Reviews
Strong Chaplin Piece
I am a child of the Sixties, and many of the attitudes I formed were based on essentially special moments, it seems to me. One of my parent's friends opined one evening, stridently, vigourously, something to the effect that because Charlie Chaplin was a Communist everything he ever did was therefore artistically inadmissible. There are times in life where something you hear you instantly know is either completely wrong or right. I knew then that this had to be wrong, even though I had never seen anything more than a snippet of Chaplin's work.

Many of what are considered great films were not shown anywhere, not on TV, certainly not on the big screen, for most of my early life. So it is that in my recent viewing of "City Lights" I saw my first full length Chaplin film. And I was not disappointed.

In this movie there are only a handful of main characters. Chaplin's little tramp is of course prominent, but the key supporting players certainly get a lot of screen time. Among them is the blind flower girl who becomes the center of the tramp's attention, her grandmother, and a very rich and also very boozy benefactor of sorts. The rich man's butler has a significant part. There are many, many players with brief parts.

As far as a plot goes, the tramp meets the blind flower girl and of course he is able over time to appear to her as a wealthy kind-of boyfriend; he helps her when he can. He is smitten with her. In the meantime the tramp has run into the rich man, their initial meeting being the tramp's intervention in the others suicide attempt.

But the benefactor has mercurial fits of memory loss and gain, so his generous gestures are at best unreliable. In the midst of the tramp's efforts to do what we would term the right thing, other confounding moments occur. Which leads us to the comedy part.

In effect the tramp runs into troubles at every turn. His helpful and often unsolicited attempts make things right do not necessarily provide a real advantage for him or those about him. He does get the money to help the flower girl and grandmother, but at a price.

It is fun to watch the little tramp and his antics. Chaplin could certainly do physical comedy, and his attempts at this are very honest, involving tremendous eye to detail touches in all scenes. At one point he briefly eludes two policemen; his quickness and well-rehearsed reaction is actually difficult to follow.

I have read about the ending previously from a few sources, but no spoilers were among them. I appreciate this because the last few moments of "City Lights" deliver a terrific payoff. And its nice to know a boyhood suspicion was well-founded.

Three Stars
2009-04-24
Intellectual
The movie is a brilliant movie with simple approach, face expressions and body language delivered the message louder than words. Charlie Chaplin manages to expose the contrast in our lives between rich and poor and between dreams and reality. The first point has been delivered in the first seen, when group of politicians were celebrating a monument that has been built by donated money. Charlie Chaplin (a homeless man) was sleeping under the cover of the statue. This seen highlighted the contrast between money spent for cosmetic projects that does not add any value to eliminate hanger and improve the life of the neediest parts of the community. The message is that we are spending money and willing to provide funding for project that at most just cosmetic, and ignore funding to fight hunger, homelessness and curable diseases in our own backyard in the US. We see the same today, almost seventy years after the movie. The willingness to spend many billions on wars, supporting dictators, stadiums, art, and music, on the other hand, the community organized huge resistance to provide health care service for every American. The movie continued to highlight the wide gap between the rich and the poor in our community. The movie showed how a $10 can buy whole day worth of work for the blind girl and send her home for the day. The rich mane has many of those bills in his pocket as pocket cash. The same point is emphasized when the drunk rich man wanted to help and offered a $1000 to help. This amount of money was part of the pocket cash again. The movie proceed to show that portion of the rich man pocket cash was able to keep the blind lady and her old grandmother at their rented home, and cure her vision in addition to opening her own flower shop. The idea of just a portion of a pocket cash of someone can make this huge impact on someone else life is sad reality. It applies to all of us today, the few dollars we spend every day on coffee, cigarettes, and other unessential expenses can make huge difference in someone else life, in this country and in other countries. The culture of spending money we don't have to buy things we will never use is a very well established culture, proved by a simple trip to the nearest Costco or mall. The rich man drives a Rolls Royce (that he was willing to give it as gift in exchange for few happy moments with his "friend" Charlie Chaplin) and he has several servants at his home. The movie succeeded in denying the association between money and happiness. The rich man was not happy and was trying to end his own life; however, unintentionally he was able to introduce major happiness to others. The fact that he was drunk when he offered the money is an indicator that people are good when they are at their simplest form, and turn to monsters when they are back to their complicated personality.

At many points, the movie highlighted the harsh reality of the tough job market. The humiliation of cleaning after horses and "elephants" and the job as a boxer to make money were stretched to make the message louder. My personal believe is that money and wealth belong to god, wealthy people are just in control of the wealth in behalf of god and spending money is regulated on the basis of helping the bigger benefit of the community. Over spending is discouraged and greed is discouraged. The spending is to be balanced between the extremes. God like to see the signs of his gifts on his creations. The movie did not touch directly on the social justice and the lack of it; however, it highlighted the dark side of capitalism, homelessness, eviction, medical coverage, and low end jobs brutality. The movie triggered thoughts in many directions due the lack of the sound conversation. This may lead to stretch of what really the movie is trying to say and deliver to the viewers. It opened the door for multiple interpretations for the same seen based on one's background and believes. In conclusion, the movie is intellectual and it is everything but just a popcorn movie.

The movie successfully delivered the message that capitalism comes with heavy price. The dark side of capitalism can be minimized by having social justice and implementing social services to benefit the least fortunate among us and the sick.Advance social services do not contradict with capitalism as far as I understood capitalism. Advanced social services may hurt certain business like insurance companies and other business that makes money from the misery of people. The contradiction is how such a religious country like the US denies social services and support for the poor and the sick. It seems to me that money rules, and money map our lives much more than out believes. I always support my claim with our consistent attempts to cash in our ethics like legalizing gambling and certain types of drugs. Some communities went further and legalized prostitution. As I am living in this free country, I am always amazed how major issues are not negotiable and taken granted forever as in the availability and abuse of alcohol and "right" to have sex without restrictions. We choose to deal with the end effect of alcohol but never question its availability and accessibility equally to under-aged and mature abusers. The same applies to our solution to the teen pregnancy where the best we did is making condoms available.

This movie was one of the intellectual movies that managed to deliver a clear message by highlighting contradictions in our daily live. I enjoyed the movie and it made it to my favorite movies list.
2011-02-06
Simply Heart Warming
I love black and white films, it's amazing to see history before your eyes. It's always great to see the passion of these early actors/directors. Charlie Chaplin was both an actor and a director and did well in both roles. So many think that Chaplin was a simple jester, just making people laugh. But he was much more than that, and this movie attests to that. It can be seen in his movies that Chaplin carries meanings in his roles and this movie is about loving someone more than you love yourself. It's about how a kind man remains kind regardless of the mistreatment that come his way. It's about how love for someone can provide purpose and meaning in someone's life. It's about how miracles can come in the most strangest and unlikely forms. The movie is filled with laughs, joys and tears. For those who like the simplicity of first time cinema, I recommend this movie.
2011-09-12
No one can fail to see just how inspiring and uplifting "City Lights" is
For centuries, we've been living in a world that mostly consists of people trying to fend for themselves and obtain whatever necessary resources they can in order to survive. This mindset of how the world works results in the rich being prosperous and entitled while the poor are miserable and shunned. In short, various developments (whether it's the invention of new technologies or events that make us question the unity of humanity) have made us more selfish and isolated from one another. I'm saying this since I believe the primary reason that silent film legend Charlie Chaplin had a lasting impact is because while he confirms that we live in this kind of world, he pulls off something in his films that's very difficult to do. He somehow reassures us that everything will be okay no matter how hard you fall and that there are still people out there who help out other people. And very few films of Chaplin's have proved this more effectively than his 1931 silent masterpiece, "City Lights".

This silent romantic comedy follows Chaplin's famous Tramp character as he meets a pretty but blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill) who mistakes him for a millionaire. That night, the Tramp also meets a drunken millionaire (Harry Myers) and saves him from suicide. As a way of thanking the Tramp for saving him from himself, this millionaire immediately considers him a friend and welcomes the Tramp to his mansion. After they go for a chaotic night on the town, the millionaire sobers up the next day unable to recognize the Tramp in the slightest and kicks him out. So, the Tramp runs into the blind flower girl again and starts initiating a special relationship with her. He also runs into the same millionaire a second time and in his drunken state invites him back to his mansion. From there, certain events eventually ensue in which the Tramp does whatever he can to help pay for the blind girl's eye operation by taking advantage of his unusual friendship with this millionaire.

To write, direct or star in a film with or without sound is one thing. But to write, direct AND star in a film that is technically silent yet has a few bits of sound and a musical score is another thing. With "City Lights", Charlie Chaplin had successfully pulled off an intensely strenuous task. On top of the fact that he decided to make a silent picture in the midst of the "talking pictures" becoming the talk of the town, he had to write, direct AND act in this film. Anyone can tell you that it's a monumental responsibility to pull off all three of these tasks and still produce a high quality film. And the reason that Chaplin had rightfully become a major influence on the film industry isn't just because he's written, directed and starred in excellent pictures, but because these pictures are still being enjoyed by modern audiences today even if they are silent. That's the true sign of a timeless piece of filmmaking.

What I particularly loved about "City Lights", as well as with "Modern Times" (1936), is that its direction is emotionally equivalent to an efficient and smooth roller coaster ride. In other words, Chaplin does a fantastic job at switching back and forth between comedic and dramatic moments seamlessly. One moment you're genuinely laughing at the trouble that the Tramp gets into, the other moment you're feeling pity for the troubles he's experiencing. One moment you feel like your hopes are crushed and nothing's going to be okay, the other you feel like all hope is restored and everything will turn out fine. The bottom line is that this is the kind of experience you can expect from "City Lights" throughout.

An example of a scene that demonstrates this emotional experience in action is the boxing scene. The scenario is this. The Tramp has to fight in a "fake" boxing match to win money that will help with the blind girl's financial troubles. A fellow boxer agrees to split the prize 50- 50, so that they both technically would win. Unfortunately, this boxer has to bail out of the match since the police are on to him and the boxer that the Tramp has to contend with now says that the "winner takes all". And throughout the match, the Tramp uses a hilarious strategy to try and win the match by hiding behind the referee as much as he can. I won't reveal anything else at this point to those who haven't seen the film yet and want to. All I can say is that this entire scene is representative of the film as a whole: a film that walks steadily on a fine line between comedy and drama and pulls it off perfectly.

What's even more admirable is that it's all done solely through visuals and background music. Seeing that this is a silent film, it makes sense to incorporate some over exaggerated actions namely Chaplin's clumsiness in the restaurant with the millionaire. Like animated films, silent pictures depend heavily on their visuals in able to help the film express itself more strongly since of course there's no sound to assist the visuals. And most of the time, the only way it can pull off such a thing is by over exaggerating certain actions. By doing so, we can get more of an idea visually of what our main character is experiencing and therefore be able to relate to him more. And Chaplin hits just the right note as far as that's concerned.

Chaplin's silent pictures, especially "City Lights", have lasted more than any other films from the silent era and for good reason. Their stories about persevering to the best of your ability no matter what harsh circumstances you're under have been nothing short of inspiring and uplifting. And no one can fail at seeing that.
2014-02-02
Is it really that good?
The answer is yes, yes, and YES.

City Lights (1931) may be the sweetest film ever made. A gentle romantic-comedy with a great ending, this movie is unforgettable. Unlike a modern comedy or rom-com, there is not a trace of mean-spiritedness here.

I'm not sure if CL is Chaplin's funniest movie, but some of his most hilarious moments are all here. The comic highlight is the boxing match, which is great all in and of itself.

Though Chaplin had a hard time with Virginia Cherrill on set, she is perfect as the flower girl the Tramp seeks to help. He considered casting Georgia Hale in the part, but I don't think anyone could have exuded innocence and tenderness in the same caliber as Cherrill.

This is a fine movie, truly great.
2014-08-19
Unparalleled Brilliance
Simply put, this is one of the greatest films of all time. Chaplin, playing the familiar tramp, meets a blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill) and is touched by her. He also meets a millionaire (Harry Myers) who only seems to be able to tolerate the tramp when he is drunk. The tramp looks to raise money to cure the girl's blindness. The film is funny, poignant and heartwarming. Its full of Chaplin like pratfalls and sight gags, but it also has a tenderness that is both welcome and inspired. A "silent" film (Chaplin composed the music, also wonderful), it just doesn't have any dialog. Its so much better for that, it means more. The last scene is probably the greatest in movie history, but watch the whole film and just get immersed in the artistry and brilliance that was Chaplin.
2011-07-06
In my honest opinion, this is Charlie Chaplin's masterpiece
As much as I loved The Kid, The Gold Rush, Modern Times and The Great Dictator, City Lights is the film I consider Charlie Chaplin's masterpiece. And there are several reasons why this is so for me.

I love how City Lights is filmed, once again the cinematography is stunning as are the costumes and sets. The music is also a delight(though my favourite soundtrack in a Chaplin movie is the one for Modern Times) with plenty of themes that stuck in my head, while the sound effects are wonderfully incorporated and the subtitles easy to understand. The comedy is brilliantly done, the scene in the boxing ring is not only one of my favourite scenes in a Chaplin movie(along with the final sequence and the dance of the bread rolls of The Gold Rush, the final scene of The Kid and the speech from The Great Dictator) but ever in a comedy, while there is a very touching love story between the Tramp and the little blind girl(played touchingly by Virginia Cherrill) he falls in love with. And I also found the close-up climax achingly poignant because of its beauty and ambiguity. Chaplin is superb, his pantomime skills and physical humour are extremely well judged and he is acts beautifully with Cherrill.

Overall, yet another Chaplin masterpiece, yet for me this is the best of them all. 10/10 Bethany Cox
2010-08-14
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.
2001-02-06
Lady and the Tramp, before animation and at the start of talkies- one of the most wonderful films ever conceived and executed
If there is one Charlie Chaplin film to recommend, as others have pointed to in the past, City Lights is the one. Though Chaplin played his Tramp character superbly in other movies, like Modern Times and The Gold Rush, City Lights displays the Tramp at his funniest, his bravest, his most romantic, and his most sympathetic. It's tough for filmmakers in recent days to bring the audience so close emotionally with the characters, but it's pulled off.

The film centers on three characters- the Tramp, the quintessential, funny homeless man who blends into the crowd, but gets caught in predicaments. He helps a drunken businessman (Myers, a fine performance in his own right) from suicide, and becomes his on and off again friend (that is, when it suits him and doesn't notice his 'friend's' state). The other person in the Tramp's life is the Blind Flower Girl (Virginia Cherrill, one of the most absorbing, beautiful, and key female performances in silent film), who are quite fond of each other despite the lack of total perception. The emotional centerpiece comes in obtaining rent and eye surgery money, which leads to a (how else can I put it) magical boxing match where it's basically a 180 from the brutality and viscerality of a match in say Raging Bull.

Though there is no dialog, the film achieves a timelessness- it's essentially a tale of two loners who find each other, lose each other, and find each other again (the last scene, widely discussed by critics for decades, is moving if not tear-inducing). And it's never, ever boring- once you get along with the Tramp, you find the little things about him, the reaction shots, the little things he does after the usual big gag (look to the ballroom scene for examples of this, or when he gets a bottle of wine poured down his pants without the other guy noticing). Truth be told, if this film makes you indifferent, never watch Chaplin again. But if you give yourself to the film, you may find it's one of the most charming from the era, or perhaps any era.
2004-09-12
Ultimate Chaplin
(Do you really need to post a spoiler warning for a movie that as of tonight is 77 years old?)

I haven't read other reviews so forgive me if I repeat any previous postings. "City Lights" is, with nary a doubt, the greatest love story ever told. Forget "Casablanca". Forget "An Affair to Remember". Forget "Love Story". (For the love of Christ, forget "Love Story".) This is a movie about the purest love.

We have the simple, ubiquitous Tramp. He is smitten with a blind flower girl, who has mistaken him for a wealthy man. There is a new operation that "cures" blindness, and the Tramp will do anything to help Flower Girl regain her sight. He tries to win a boxing match in which he is clearly outclassed. In an era that is forgotten in modern times (pun gleefully intended), he cleans the streets of dung. (One of the best sight gags in screen history happens when the Tramp has to clean up after an elephant.) Finally he steals from a wealthy man to get the money he needs to pay for Flower Girl's operation.

And then, after he has spent many years in prison, the Tramp is reunited with Flower Girl.

My fellow males, this is a wonderful "Chick Flick." If your lady friend isn't reduced to tears by the last 4 minutes of this movie, you need to find a new lady. I've seen it a dozen times and it always gets to me.
2008-04-20
See Also
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