City Lights (2/15)

As the sound era dawned, everyone wanted to hear the Tramp speak — everyone, that is, except Chaplin himself. Feeling that words in the Tramp’s mouth would evaporate the universality of the character, Chaplin pushed ahead with City Lights, easily his most focused, shining effort, and a rare silent film produced after the Twenties had closed. The Tramp befriends a blind girl who believes he’s a millionaire, and tries his hand at a variety of odd jobs to pay for her eye operation — meanwhile, a real-life fantastically kooky alcoholic millionaire becomes the Tramp’s new best friend, except for that thing where he tries to get the Tramp arrested every time they sober up. Seriously funny and deeply affecting, especially in a devastating final scene that will leave no audience member unmoved, City Lights is a marvel for being such a tightly-wound, densely-plotted work (even though it was born out of Chaplin’s obsessive on-the-fly scripting while the film was in production), and it feels light as air to boot.
Dir. Charles Chaplin, 1931, 35mm, 87 min.

Watch the trailer for “City Lights”!
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