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Buy City Lights 1931 Online (mkv, avi, flv, mp4) DVDRip
Drama, Romance, Comedy
IMDB rating:
Charles Chaplin
Virginia Cherrill as A Blind Girl
Florence Lee as The Blind Girl's Grandmother
Harry Myers as An Eccentric Millionaire
Al Ernest Garcia as The Eccentric Millionaire's Butler (as Allan Garcia)
Hank Mann as A Prizefighter
Storyline: 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.
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
HQ DVD-rip 720x480 px 1180 Mb mpeg4 1753 Kbps avi Download
DVD-rip 576x416 px 701 Mb h264 1184 Kbps avi Download
Orson Welles once cited as his favorite movie Charlie Chaplin's tribute to the art of body language and pantomime, "City Lights."

"I was determined to continue making silent films," Chaplin recalls in "My Life in Pictures" of his decision to make a silent four years into the talkie era, "for I believed there was room for all types of entertainment." "City Lights" features Chaplin's musical composition and various sound effects, but no dialogue. Chaplin opens the film with a lampoon of talkies: at the unveiling of a Greco-Roman stone statue, the dignitaries' speeches are heard only as unintelligible squawks.

Smitten by a flower-selling Blind Girl (Virginia Sherrill) who has mistaken him for a dapper gentleman, the Little Tramp takes on odd jobs (including a prizefight, shown in a masterfully choreographed sequence) to raise money for an operation to restore her vision. After the Tramp intervenes to prevent the suicide of an alcoholic tycoon, the tycoon befriends him; but it is an on and off friendship, as when sober the tycoon doesn't even recognize the Tramp. Despite a series of mishaps, the Tramp pays for the operation. But in the process he lands in prison. On the Tramp's elease, the Blind Girl learns the true identity of her benefactor in one of the most rarified scenes in cinema.

Ultimate Chaplin
(Do you really need to post a spoiler warning for a movie that as of tonight is 77 years old?)

I haven't read other reviews so forgive me if I repeat any previous postings. "City Lights" is, with nary a doubt, the greatest love story ever told. Forget "Casablanca". Forget "An Affair to Remember". Forget "Love Story". (For the love of Christ, forget "Love Story".) This is a movie about the purest love.

We have the simple, ubiquitous Tramp. He is smitten with a blind flower girl, who has mistaken him for a wealthy man. There is a new operation that "cures" blindness, and the Tramp will do anything to help Flower Girl regain her sight. He tries to win a boxing match in which he is clearly outclassed. In an era that is forgotten in modern times (pun gleefully intended), he cleans the streets of dung. (One of the best sight gags in screen history happens when the Tramp has to clean up after an elephant.) Finally he steals from a wealthy man to get the money he needs to pay for Flower Girl's operation.

And then, after he has spent many years in prison, the Tramp is reunited with Flower Girl.

My fellow males, this is a wonderful "Chick Flick." If your lady friend isn't reduced to tears by the last 4 minutes of this movie, you need to find a new lady. I've seen it a dozen times and it always gets to me.
Decent, but not a must-watch.
Ah, a Charles Chaplin film. I remember watching my fair share of the silent clowns back in film class and here I watched another. City Lights is about a tramp who falls for a blind girl and works to help her out. That's basically the story; here's the twist: she thinks he's a millionaire and he wants to help pay for an operation that will give her sight (which means that she finds out he's not a millionaire). Okay, the story is done.

Honestly, I have to say that I like Chaplin, but I don't love him. This film does nothing to change my mind. There are many cute clowning sequences and they are strung together, although early on, they don't do a whole lot to help the story out and serve almost as distractions. However, taken as individual scenes, they are entertaining, although nothing that caused me to laugh out loud.

The film is helped in that it doesn't resolve too neatly but leaves a little room for our own projection of how we think things happen after we see "The End". And it's a bittersweet plot twist which allows for some empathy, rather than just clowning for the sake of clowning. So, City Lights is enjoyable and human, but suffers from gag-stringing and being a little drawn out. Decent, but not a must-watch. 7/10.
Sublime Chaplin Masterpiece
Chaplin was a unique presence in the history of the early cinema. Coming up through the ranks, he gradually achieved a god-like stature, being awarded total control of every facet of the production.

Not only was he often the sole person who knew what the end product was to be (as in "The Kid") but he was also allowed to elaborately improvise in the creative process. This often meant doing countless scores of retakes over days, weeks and even months; holding up the cast and crew for days while he brooded over just what to do next; and even (in the case of "The Gold Rush") cancelling expensive weeks of location shooting and returning to the studio to start all over again.

He cleverly duped chief studio- and bank chiefs into somehow going along with his free-wheeling and gross inclinations, thus mesmerizing their conservative senses into supporting his hit-and-miss schemes and trial-and-error "madness."

In other words, Chaplin used the entire productional company as merely as his paintbrush, with which he toyed at his pleasure to create his personal canvases. Fortunately, he was a genius, and at the right place in time to be allowed to get away with such unprecedented extravagence.

It was a young and growing industry when Chaplin began emerging, and there were no set rules. People were still trying to figure out just what could be done with the medium -- and Chaplin helped to establish its early parameters.

He was certainly and autocrat, yet that doesn't really matter when it comes to film works. It's the product that counts. In the case of "City Lights," all the blood-sweat-and-tears that it took to achieve the finished product was more than worth the effort.

Now that all the frustration, anger, and outrage associated with the behind-the-scenes unfoldment of this highly troubled production are well in the past, what remains is a genuinely moving film classic.

Sometimes great enterprises require considerable hardship to forge them into being. The greater the achievement, often the greater the challenge and period of endurance. Whatever the case, we are the appreciative recipients of this masterwork, which takes its place besides "Modern Times" and "The Gold Rush" as one of Chaplin's consummate expressions.
"Tomorrow the birds will sing"
The victory of the sound picture over the silent was a speedy and decisive one. The first full-length talkies were released in 1928. By 1929 theatres were being forced to convert to sound in order to stay in business. By 1930 silent film production by the major studios was completely discontinued and the medium became generally viewed as an anachronism. But in 1931 a new silent picture was released that, far from being an embarrassing failure, became the fourth-highest grossing picture of the year, being even more popular than such classics as the Bela Lugosi Dracula and The Public Enemy. The picture was City Lights and its producer, writer, director, editor, composer and star was Mr Charlie Chaplin.

Chaplin was of course primarily a comedian, and his humour was of broad appeal, but audiences of the time were not exactly starved of easy comedy. The Marx Brothers were making great strides on the verbal quipping front, and the ever-popular Laurel and Hardy had made a successful transition to sound. What makes Charlie stand out, and what gave him a level of accessibility that allowed him to continue with his slapstick antics well into the sound era, is his equal devotion to story which allowed him a scope for social commentary, empathetic characterisation and deep poignancy. Of all Chaplin's silent pictures, City Lights is probably his least memorable in the funny stakes. The number of classic gags here is fairly small. Not since The Kid a decade earlier has Chaplin given story so much precedence. City Lights is riddled with coincidence and plot contrivance, but it's a tale of such beauty and sincerity that this does not matter. Within this story, the comedy becomes functional, often serving to puncture a schmaltzy moment before it becomes overdone. Ironically it is the occasional forays into slapstick that help keep City Lights real.

As if to snub the talkie, City Lights is a remarkable achievement in complex visual narrative, even only occasionally relying upon title cards and then often only as an embellishment to the more comedy-driven moments. Most plot points and character traits are implied rather than stated, which gives the picture a continual smoothness – another thing that would have gone down well with audiences glad to see the back of the intrusive title card. Out of necessity Chaplin's technical approach is more overt than his usual. He often cuts to a close-up to give us a necessary reaction, and there are even some whip-pans in the scene where he and the flower girl first meet, but all of this is in keeping with the rhythm and tone of the picture. Those whip pans after all reflect an abrupt emotional moment, and are in no way a blatant or showy manoeuvre.

But what really makes City Lights work, what makes it connect, is the man himself on the screen. Those additional close-ups, once a rarity for a man who acted mainly with his body, now show off a capability for intense facial acting. An older, more meditative Chaplin may have been keeping the traditions of silent cinema alive, but his own career trajectory was entering new ground, where emotional expression was increasingly intimate and personal. The result is profoundly moving.
Movie Odyssey Review #051: City Lights
051: City Lights (1931) - released 1/30/31; viewed 5/14/06.

KEVIN: While watching the film, it's hard to believe that the production of Charlie Chaplin's City Lights could have been more laborious and time-consuming than The Gold Rush. But Chaplin's penchant for perfectionism wasn't about to go away, and fortunately it pays off in spades here. This is surely the real best picture of 1931 (and the competition was stiff as ever). Although it's not as perfect as Gold Rush, it's still a great example of Chaplin's emotionally-rich storytelling craft, and is a slight middle-finger to the staunch supporters of conversion to talkies. The Tramp truly is born for the silent film and nothing else. In my mind, every time I tried to add spoken words to his act, the magic disappeared. Virginia Cherrill isn't the Tramp's greatest female foil, but she does bring exactly the right amount of understated pathos and innocence every second she's on screen. One of my favorite comic sequences in the film is the boxing match, a hilarious mixture of balletic violence and precise comedic timing. The final moments of the film are far superior to the rags-to-riches ending of The Gold Rush as the blind girl with her sight restored sees her benefactor for the first time.

DOUG: After enduring the two-day gulag of Cimarron, we move on to the REAL best picture of '31, Charles Chaplin's City Lights. Moviegoers haven't seen Chaplin in three years (about eight months for us), and in that time silent movies had all but vanished…except for Chaplin, who wouldn't let the format in which he had perfected his act go away so easily. I'd been looking forward to watching this film for a very long time, as it shows up on a great many AFI lists, not to mention there were a number of scenes I was hoping to see, especially the boxing scene, where the Tramp uses every trick in the book to keep from getting taken out by his bigger, stronger opponent. We decided to watch it twice, since we were half-awake for most of the first viewing (it was late), not to mention the fact that it really is THAT GOOD. I was surprised that this was quite a different film from The Gold Rush, with a somewhat simpler story and the romantic plot more at the forefront. It is very interesting to see how Chaplin reacted to sound pictures, using sound while not using it; at the beginning, we see people talking at a dedication of a new landmark, but all we hear is a strange buzzing sound (Chaplin blowing a bit of paper against a comb). And what more can be said about Virginia Cherrill, the lovely blind girl whom the Tramp falls for? Her performance is very understated, letting the simplest of gestures and movements tell the whole story (A screen test on the DVD shows Georgia Hale trying for the part when things got rough with Virginia, and her style is much more expressive. How weird is it that Chaplin worked with one actress named Georgia and another named Virginia?). When the ending came up, I knew what was coming, but it's still so incredibly powerful.

One parallel I noticed on the second viewing: the Tramp meets up with the millionaire and makes friends with him. The millionaire treats him as his best chum when he's stone drunk, but then forgets it all and rejects him as a vagrant and an intruder when sober. No doubt our Tramp fears a similar rejection from the Girl when she sees what he really is.

Last film: Cimarron (1931). Next film: Dracula (1931).
City Lights (1931)

**** (out of 4)

A tramp (Charles Chaplin), a rich drunk (Harry Myers) and a blind girl (Virginia Cherrill) make for one of the greatest films of all time. Most classic films have at least one terrific scene and many of the all time greats have three or four but this film here has at least one dozen great scenes but the most memorable is without a doubt the ending. The film gets off to a feverish pace with one great scene after another, of course starting with the revealing of the statue where we see The Tramp sleeping. The two little kids picking on The Tramp is another great comic moment and Chaplin looking at the window provides even more of his genius. The story with the drunk would make a great film on its own and Chaplin uses every moment of this friendship to get as many laughs as possible. Even though this is a terrific comedy I think the film has remained so strong due to the wonderful and touching love story between The Tramp and the blind girl. There's no denying the power and beauty of the ending of this film and each time I see it it makes me tear up.
Seeing and Being Seen
Spoilers herein.

For me, this film falls not into the category of favorite films (I'm a Marx brothers kind of guy) but earns instead a place on a very short list of most important movies.

That's because it has two features that I truly appreciate.

It is as pure a vision of its creator as is possible. Nearly all other films are engineered from prior work. Not so with a small list of projects from Welles, Kurosawa, Eisenstein, ... and this one project of Chaplin's. They are wholly original, springing from some nether world.

But the other element is the one that impresses the most. This film is about itself, about the art of visual narrative. Chaplin was intelligent enough to know that what he was doing was new. The issues are centered on what the audience `sees,' so while he struggles with what and how the audience sees, he builds that into the fabric of the story.

The primary framing is about the blind girl who falls in love with him by `seeing' him in her own way. Then `sees' him at the end in a different way. The rich man recognizes the tramp when drunk but does not when he is not. Nearly all the jokes, indeed every element of the film is about this same dynamic: the elevator which is not seen but then was, the burglars the same, the Tramp on the statue, on the barrel. Even seeing the cigar before the bum does. Even us seeing the soap and the foreman not.

The `seeing' is carried over to `hearing' with the politician and whistle jokes. And then even further as Charlie turns his back on the new technology of giving us speech and instead `shows' us something else: he writes and conducts an amazing score instead. This is truly amazing (and one reason to take Mike Figgis seriously).

No wonder Orson Welles considered this the most important film ever made. But as to the best to watch? Because film is so derivative, my own gold standard for the Tramp is Robert Downey's (and to some extent Depp's). Comic timing is something that evolves, and those men make a more effective Tramp for my modern ability to see.

Trivia: Chaplin found the `blind' girl in a group of spectators at a fight and was struck with how her expressions reflected what she saw. She's pretty as well of course, but certainly not the prettiest Chaplin knew. See how Chaplin separately works in both the fight (a performance) and her reaction to his performance in the film.
Chaplin's Masterpiece...and Oh Those Last Five Minutes!
Let me join the consensus and call Charlie Chaplin's "City Lights" a masterpiece. It's only 81 minutes long, but they are among the best 81 minutes you could spend at the movies, and the last five minutes are simply exquisite. Keep your Kleenex box at arm's length as I doubt if there has been a more honestly heartbreaking scene captured on film. When the formerly blind girl gives the Little Tramp a flower and ultimately says "Yes, I can see now", the scene takes on such emotional gravity as to defy explanation.

Chaplin was at his zenith in 1928 when he started a journey of more than two years to develop and film this story, and the Little Tramp had already been a familiar character to audiences for over a decade. He had already made the classics "The Gold Rush" (1925) and "The Circus" (1928) starring his character, so it's obvious he felt a need to take a slightly different direction and deepen the character this time. The advent of talkies didn't stop Chaplin from making this "Comedy Romance in Pantomime" (as he subtitled it), as he knew giving the Little Tramp a voice would limit his appeal as a universal character. What I particularly enjoyed in this film is how the Little Tramp fancies himself as a well-mannered gentleman in spite of all the circumstances that bring him down, even going to prison for love. It is this self-delusion and his subsequent mistaken identity as a millionaire that leads him to the blind flower girl, played in an effectively plaintive manner by Virginia Cherrill. Her performance is a greatly underrated element in this film, as she displays the right amount of vacant innocence to make the last minutes so memorable. Simply compare her to the screen test shown of Georgia Hale, Chaplin's leading lady in "The Gold Rush" and an obviously more experienced actress than Cherrill, as Hale struggles to show the right balance between condescension and beatific revelation when she realizes the Little Tramp is the "wealthy" gentleman who paid for the restoration of her sight.

Of course, this would not be a Chaplin film without the brilliance of his comedy routines and there is a treasure trove of classic scenes - the rising and lowering of the street elevator, the shifting musical chairs scene at the nightclub, the mock suicide at the canal and especially the boxing scene, which has been imitated by so many lesser filmmakers (and was according to the footage included as a DVD extra, inspired by an earlier Chaplin short "The Champion" from 1915). Even a simple moment, for example, when the Little Tramp mistakes a piece of thread from his vest for a ball of twine, is impressive for the sheer delicacy of the moment. And special mention needs to go to Chaplin's musical score, where he beautifully interweaves José Padilla's "La Violetta" as his love theme.

The transfer to DVD is very good, and the 2-DVD set has plenty of extras though they vary in quality. The Serge Bromberg documentary provides an informative supplement to the film, and the footage of Chaplin from a Vienna press tour is fascinating since it captures the long-forgotten worldwide frenzy he created back then. The aforementioned Georgia Hale screen test is a worthwhile addition but runs on a bit too long. The 10-minute home movie of Chaplin's trip to Bali has a certain anthropological interest but seems rather pointless otherwise. Regardless, the movie itself is rewarding enough and an exquisite jewel that completely justifies Chaplin's reputation as one of the world's leading filmmakers.
One of best romantic movies
I was first exposed to Chaplin as a kid, through his short films. And though I enjoyed them a lot, when I grew up I mostly put him in same league with Lauren and Hardy, Three Stooges etc that is really good at visual gags but not much else. Though I liked him I couldn't understand him being considered one of the greatest directors, I thought maybe that was due to nostalgia people have about their childhood.

How wrong I was, when I finally did see a full length movie, I was amazed. Chaplin certainly deserves his reputation. And this is my favorite Chaplin movie. It is one of most poignant, touching love stories. It has its funny parts too but those were overshadowed for me by the touching parts.
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