8.5/10
164,508
295 user 123 critic

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.

Director:

Charles Chaplin

Writer:

Charles Chaplin
Reviews
Popularity
4,933 ( 140)
Top Rated Movies #42 | 3 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Virginia Cherrill ... A Blind Girl
Florence Lee Florence Lee ... The Blind Girl's Grandmother
Harry Myers ... An Eccentric Millionaire
Al Ernest Garcia ... James - the Millionaire's Butler (as Allan Garcia)
Hank Mann ... A Prizefighter
Charles Chaplin ... 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

Taglines:

"Too Funny For Words!" (Print Ad- New York Sun, ((New York NY)) 16 April 1931) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At one point, Virginia Cherrill came back to the set late from an appointment, keeping Charles Chaplin waiting. Chaplin, whose relationship with Cherrill was not friendly, fired her on the spot. He intended to reshoot the film with Georgia Hale, his heroine from The Gold Rush (1925), playing the flower girl; he even reshot the final scene between the tramp and the flower girl with Hale in the role. However, Chaplin had already spent far too much time and money on the project to start over. Knowing this, Cherrill offered to come back to work - at double her original salary. Chaplin reluctantly agreed and the film was completed. (Source: Virginia Cherrill interview, Unknown Chaplin (1983)) 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: Be careful how you're driving.
Eccentric Millionaire: Am I driving?
See more »

Alternate Versions

Available prints feature the original credits, although references to United Artists have been removed. Even though he was uncredited in the original versions, José Padilla's name was added to the credits See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

 
Lady and the Tramp, before animation and at the start of talkies- one of the most wonderful films ever conceived and executed
12 September 2004 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

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.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Instagram | Official Site

Country:

USA

Language:

None | English

Release Date:

7 March 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

City Lights: A Comedy Romance in Pantomime See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,102, 8 July 2007

Gross USA:

$19,181

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$46,008
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Silent | Mono (musical score)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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