It’s a film that took Charlie Chaplin three years to finish. He replaced his leading actress midway through the film, then brought her back when he knew he couldn’t start the film over with a new actress.
This film debuted four years after the release of the first successful talking picture, The Jazz Singer.
And from the first time I saw City Lights, I fell in love with this film. It’s breathtaking, it’s beautiful, it’s uplifting and it’s stunning. And although there are arguments that other Chaplin films – The Gold Rush, The Great Dictator, The Kid – stand out, as far as I’m concerned, City Lights tops them all.
The story is simple. Chaplin, as the Little Tramp, falls for a bind flower girl. And he does whatever he can to find a way to raise money to restore her sight. And in the final moments, he and the flower girl reunite … in one of the most emotional, spectacular closing moments of any film ever made.
In my personal darkest moments, a viewing of City Lights has brought me joy. Chaplin’s leading lady Virginia Cherrill is perfectly cast in her career-defining role. The sight gages in this picture are incredible – from the opening scene of Chaplin sleeping atop a sculpture, to a ballet boxing match, to the moment when he saves a rich, drunken man from suicide… it’s just a fantastic film and you can’t convince me otherwise.
Think about this for a second. Chaplin’s Little Tramp tries to bring brightness and light to a blind flower girl.
You’re curious now, aren’t you?
Here. I’ll make it easy for you.
Some kind soul uploaded City Lights to YouTube. so as long as it’s available there, I’ve got it linked here.
This film’s greatest story is not just the comedy, not just the romance, not just the cinematography … it’s all of those, and much more.
This morning, I’m otherwise engaged. So hopefully, when I get back to the blog … we’ll have something to talk about. Including this movie.