A blind girl … her grandmother … an eccentric millionaire … his butler … a prizefighter … a tramp.
Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights (1931) was released as the era of talkies was already underway, but he wanted to stick to the silent film format as much as he could. While Chaplin did add music and other sound effects to the film, the visuals serve to reflect the characters’ emotions and the plot.
The “comedy romance in pantomime” features one of Chaplin’s regular characters — The Little Tramp — who is trying to help a blind woman get the money she needs for surgery on her eyes and to keep her apartment.
Luckily, The Little Tramp meets an eccentric millionaire who he thinks can help him and the woman after he saves his life. But, living up to his persona, the millionaire doesn’t remember The Little Tramp from one moment to the next, often leaving him with more hoops to jump through before he can help the woman and they live happily ever after.
The film, complete with slapstick comedy and a score to keep up with it, is a cinematic achievement because of its unique telling of a simple story that stands the test of time. It’s no surprise this film is recommended 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.
Stars: 4 out of 4.
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