Up 163 this week

City Lights (1931)

Passed  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  7 March 1931 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.6/10 from 97,560 users  
Reviews: 209 user | 135 critic

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.



0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

Top Rated Movies #34 | 3 wins. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Modern Times (1936)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman.

Director: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman
Comedy | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel's regime.

Director: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie
The Gold Rush (1925)
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A prospector goes to the Klondike in search of gold and finds it and more.

Director: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Mack Swain, Tom Murray
The Circus (1928)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

The Tramp finds work and the girl of his dreams at a circus.

Director: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Merna Kennedy, Al Ernest Garcia
Casablanca (1942)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

Set in Casablanca, Morocco during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid
Seven Samurai (1954)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

A poor village under attack by bandits recruits seven unemployed samurai to help them defend themselves.

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Comedy | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

Epic story of a mysterious stranger with a harmonica who joins forces with a notorious desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad.

Director: Sergio Leone
Stars: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale
Psycho (1960)
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
M (1931)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut
Rear Window (1954)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey
Comedy | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden


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


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


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 March 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

City Lights: A Comedy Romance in Pantomime  »

Box Office


$1,500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (musical score)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


While his demand for perfection could sometimes ruffle feathers, there was no question that Charles Chaplin poured his heart and soul into the pantomime art that he deeply loved. The film's poignant final shot was one that he was particularly proud of, having put a great deal of work into it despite its deceptive simplicity. He felt "a beautiful sensation of not acting, of standing outside myself," he said. "The key was exactly right - slightly embarrassed, delighted about meeting her again - apologetic without getting emotional about it. He was watching and wondering without any effort. It's one of the purest inserts - I call them inserts, close-ups - that I've ever done." See more »


When the Tramp is knocked out on the table in the locker room you see a pair of boxing gloves hooked on a post behind the table. The Tramp wakes up and struggles to sit up. The entire scene you can clearly see a wire attached to one of those gloves that when triggered, falls on his head, knocking him out once again. See more »


The Tramp: Tomorrow the birds will sing.
See more »


Referenced in Las últimas horas... (1966) See more »


The Star Spangled Banner
Music by John Stafford Smith
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Chaplin's Masterpiece...and Oh Those Last Five Minutes!
16 December 2005 | by (San Francisco, CA, USA) – See all my reviews

Let me join the consensus and call Charlie Chaplin's "City Lights" a masterpiece. It's only 81 minutes long, but they are among the best 81 minutes you could spend at the movies, and the last five minutes are simply exquisite. Keep your Kleenex box at arm's length as I doubt if there has been a more honestly heartbreaking scene captured on film. When the formerly blind girl gives the Little Tramp a flower and ultimately says "Yes, I can see now", the scene takes on such emotional gravity as to defy explanation.

Chaplin was at his zenith in 1928 when he started a journey of more than two years to develop and film this story, and the Little Tramp had already been a familiar character to audiences for over a decade. He had already made the classics "The Gold Rush" (1925) and "The Circus" (1928) starring his character, so it's obvious he felt a need to take a slightly different direction and deepen the character this time. The advent of talkies didn't stop Chaplin from making this "Comedy Romance in Pantomime" (as he subtitled it), as he knew giving the Little Tramp a voice would limit his appeal as a universal character. What I particularly enjoyed in this film is how the Little Tramp fancies himself as a well-mannered gentleman in spite of all the circumstances that bring him down, even going to prison for love. It is this self-delusion and his subsequent mistaken identity as a millionaire that leads him to the blind flower girl, played in an effectively plaintive manner by Virginia Cherrill. Her performance is a greatly underrated element in this film, as she displays the right amount of vacant innocence to make the last minutes so memorable. Simply compare her to the screen test shown of Georgia Hale, Chaplin's leading lady in "The Gold Rush" and an obviously more experienced actress than Cherrill, as Hale struggles to show the right balance between condescension and beatific revelation when she realizes the Little Tramp is the "wealthy" gentleman who paid for the restoration of her sight.

Of course, this would not be a Chaplin film without the brilliance of his comedy routines and there is a treasure trove of classic scenes - the rising and lowering of the street elevator, the shifting musical chairs scene at the nightclub, the mock suicide at the canal and especially the boxing scene, which has been imitated by so many lesser filmmakers (and was according to the footage included as a DVD extra, inspired by an earlier Chaplin short "The Champion" from 1915). Even a simple moment, for example, when the Little Tramp mistakes a piece of thread from his vest for a ball of twine, is impressive for the sheer delicacy of the moment. And special mention needs to go to Chaplin's musical score, where he beautifully interweaves José Padilla's "La Violetta" as his love theme.

The transfer to DVD is very good, and the 2-DVD set has plenty of extras though they vary in quality. The Serge Bromberg documentary provides an informative supplement to the film, and the footage of Chaplin from a Vienna press tour is fascinating since it captures the long-forgotten worldwide frenzy he created back then. The aforementioned Georgia Hale screen test is a worthwhile addition but runs on a bit too long. The 10-minute home movie of Chaplin's trip to Bali has a certain anthropological interest but seems rather pointless otherwise. Regardless, the movie itself is rewarding enough and an exquisite jewel that completely justifies Chaplin's reputation as one of the world's leading filmmakers.

44 of 50 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Is the ending the best in film history? laffalott1
Your Top ten favorite silent films SakowskyBrothers
What is the best joke in the movie? nirvanasaneurysm
Don't know where to ask this help with identifying silent film. puzzle_queen
Why no Oscar nominations? laffalott1
The First Chaplin Movie I've Ever Seen... imaveggie
Discuss City Lights (1931) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: