CITY LIGHTS (1931) B/W 90m dir: Charlie Chaplin

w/Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers, Allan Garcia, Hank Mann

Perhaps Chaplin's greatest comedy feature, which means that it is one of the great works of cinema. (Chaplin not only directed, he also produced, wrote the screenplay, and composed the music for the film.) The last of his "silent" films, thanks to Chaplin's refusal to make this a "talkie" after he had spent two years in pre-production. The story is a touching and hilarious tale of the "Little Tramp" who falls in love with a blind flower girl and tries to obtain money for an operation to restore her sight.

From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films : "This simple story is told in the restrained and sparse style of the great classics, but each detail was the result of arduous and time-consuming work. In one of the opening scenes, Chaplin climbs through a luxurious car tied up in a traffic jam and finds himself facing the blind flower girl who, having heard the car door slamming, mistakes him for a millionaire. This brief scene, the basis of the film and essential to an understanding of the dramatic development, took many weeks of work with numerous rehearsals and corrections to make it entirely to the point.

"Despite its simple style and story, social polemic is quietly and continuously present, in addition to such overt allusions as the Statue of Prosperity guarded by armed men symbolizing police and war.

"The film cost Chaplin (his own producer and financially somewhat embarrassed after his divorce) a great deal of money. Its first screenings in the United States were disappointing. However, when he presented it in Europe it became an enormous and profitable international success."