City Lights

• TOP NOTCH (my top choices)
• HONORABLE MENTION (well worth watching)
• YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER (I like them but you might not)
• CLASSICS (Great movies up through the 1960s - many don't have any rating)

CITY LIGHTS (1931) - G or PG equivalent - CLASSIC 

Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee    

Summary -  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.

Cautions - None

Commentary - This is one of my favorite movies of all time and it's arguably Chaplin's greatest work. The ending is magical and moving - one of the best ever filmed.

Comments by:  Dr. Svet Atanasov
Charlie Chaplin completed City Lights in 1931, four years after the first "talkie" had premiered. He gambled with it, but the film became an instant success, and to this day many consider it one of his greatest creations.

As it is the case with practically all of Chaplin's films, in City Lights comedy and drama are closely intertwined. In it the Tramp makes two friends - one is an eccentric millionaire (Harry Myers) with a serious drinking problem who has decided to end his life, the other a poor blind girl (Virginia Cherrill) selling flowers to make ends meet. The Tramp profoundly changes their lives but they react to his goodness in two radically different ways.

The Tramp's relationship with the flower girl is pure and beautiful, never overly sentimental. Every single scene where the two are seen together is incredibly moving, filled with grace. At any given moment one knows exactly how they feel about each other.

The Tramp's relationship with the millionaire, though, is drastically different - it is grotesque and unfair, often times quite misleading. After the Tramp saves the millionaire's life the two become friends, but their friendship ends each time the millionaire gets sober - and then resumes as soon as he hits the booze again.

The point Chaplin makes with these contrasting relationships is that because of their blindness the girl and the millionaire can see the Tramp as the person he is - a good man always willing to help others, not a social outsider doomed to failure. Naturally, these relationships are quite illuminating about the nature of the society the Tramp belongs to.


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