8.6/10
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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.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Florence Lee ...
...
...
James - the Millionaire's Butler (as Allan Garcia)
...
A Prizefighter
...
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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 March 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

City Lights: A Comedy Romance in Pantomime  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (musical score)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 2008, this film was voted #1 on AFI's list over the ten best romantic comedies of all time. 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

The Tramp: You can see now?
A Blind Girl: Yes, I can see now.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Kevin Bishop Show: Episode #1.4 (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Orientale
(1931) (uncredited)
Music by Charles Chaplin
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A classic film made with love and precision
6 February 2001 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

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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