City Lights (1931)

 ●  English ● 1 hr 26 mins

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This heart-warming romantic comedy depicts the story of The Tramp, who is a kind-hearted man living in the big city. His good nature has a profound effect on two people he meets. The first is a wealthy man, who the tramp saves from killing himself during the wealthy man's drunken stupor. However, the relationship between the wealthy man and the tramp continually changes depending on the drunken or sober state of the wealthy man. The second is a poor blind flower girl, who lives with her destitute grandmother. The kindness of the tramp toward her makes her fall in love with him, as they spend time together. By circumstance, she believes that he is a wealthy man. When he learns that an expensive operation can restore her eyesight, the tramp does whatever he can to earn the money to pay for the operation, even if the result is that she will find out that he is not the wealthy man she believes him to be, and may consequently make her change her opinion of him. Will he succeed in helping her regain her eyesight? And if so, how will she react when she learns of the truth?
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Did you know? At the beginning of the film, a town official and a woman dedicating the statue can be heard uttering nondescript words by way of a paper reed mouth instrument. The sounds were made by Charles Chaplin and this was the first time that his voice was heard on film. Read More
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as An Eccentric Millionaire
as A Blind Girl
as The Millionaire's Butler
as Street Sweeper
as A Tramp
as The Blind Girl's Grandmother
as A Prizefighter
Supporting Actor

Direction

Director
Assistant Director

Production

Producer
Production Manager

Writers

Story Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography

Music

Music Director
Music Editor

Casting

Casting Director

Editorial

Assistant Editor
Film Type:
Feature Film
Language:
English
Colour Info:
Black & White
Sound Mix:
Mono, Silent
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1
Stereoscopy:
No
Goofs:
Crew/Equipment Visible
In the boxing match when the tramp propels himself off the ropes (twice) at his opponent. You can clearly see the wire on the back of his trunks.

Miscellaneous
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.

Crew/Equipment Visible
When the man swallows part of the Tramp's soap and starts spraying bubbles, the tube used to spray the bubbles is clearly visible behind him.

Continuity
When the Tramp takes the girl home, the birdcage outside the window is gone, but later reappears.

Continuity
During the film's final scene, The Tramp is seen holding the flower to his face when seen from the front; when seen from the rear, he is holding it to his lapel.

Continuity
When saving the man's life, and trying to climb out of the water, the position of the Tramp's hat is inconsistent.

Continuity
When handcuffed to go to jail, the Tramp's left hand is cuffed, but when arriving at the jail, it is his right hand that is cuffed.

Continuity
When the tramp buys all of the flower girl's flowers, she wears black stockings, but when he brings her home immediately afterward, she wears tan stockings.

Continuity
In the scene when the Tramp and the Millionaire are drinking champagne with the burglars in the house. The Tramp places the glasses on the table behind them. When one of the burglar come up behind them the glasses are gone.
Trivia:
Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky cited this as his favorite film. Woody Allen also calls it "Chaplin's best picture".

Charles Chaplin's personal favorite of all his films.

Production was delayed on several occasions. In 1929, one break lasted 62 days.

Though no footage of Georgia Hale appears in the finished film, the reconciliation scene she shot for him in Virginia Cherrill's absence, has survived.

In terms of years, this film was Charles Chaplin's longest undertaking. It was in production for over three years, from 31 December 1927 to 22 January 1931, although he only shot for 180 days.

One of Charles Chaplin's friends, the famous illustrator Ralph Barton, was on set one day during the filming of the scene where Charlie and the blind girl meet. These home movies, which appear in Unknown Chaplin (1983), and is the only known behind the scenes footage of Chaplin at work in costume as the tramp.

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)).

Charles Chaplin's first film made during the sound era. He faced extreme pressure to make the film as a talkie, but such was his popularity and power in Hollywood that he was able to complete and release the film as a silent (albeit with recorded music) at a time when the rest of the American motion picture industry had converted to sound.

When the film opened on 31 January 1931, Albert Einstein joined Charles Chaplin at the theater. When the film opened in England, George Bernard Shaw joined him.

Winston Churchill visited the set, and Charles Chaplin took a break to make a short film with him.

Charles Chaplin re-shot the scene in which the Little Tramp buys a flower from the blind flower-girl 342 times, as he could not find a satisfactory way of showing that the blind flower-girl thought that the mute tramp was wealthy.

At the beginning of the film, a town official and a woman dedicating the statue can be heard uttering nondescript words by way of a paper reed mouth instrument. The sounds were made by Charles Chaplin and this was the first time that his voice was heard on film.

Orson Welles said that this was his favorite movie of all time.

This was Charles Chaplin's first film made during the sound era. He faced extreme pressure to make the film as a talkie, but such was his popularity and power in Hollywood that he was able to complete and release the film as a silent (albeit with recorded music) at a time when the rest of the American motion picture industry had converted to sound.