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Directed by Charlie Chaplin

United States 1931 87 mins.

Chaplin, neverendingly empathetic to his characters—and thus to their real-world counterparts, usually the poor and downtrodden of American society—crafted perhaps his crowning achievement with this 1931 silent, one of the last of its kind, coming well into the sound era. His famous Tramp character here falls head-over-heels in love with a blind flower girl (a marvelous Virginia Cherrill), but considering her inability to see the Tramp’s perpetually dishevelled outward appearance, various misunderstandings ensue as he valiantly tries to raise money for an eye operation. “Orson Welles, Robert Bresson, and Andrei Tarkovsky all named City Lights as their favorite film of all time—what further recommendation do you need? Here is one of the perfect movies, as well as the apotheosis of Chaplin’s mix of humor and sentiment… As for the Tramp’s relationship with the blind flower girl, it is one of the most moving in cinema, as direct, funny, and heartwarming a depiction of love as one could imagine.”—Ben Sachs, Cine-File Chicago.

Genres: Silent Film, Comedy

Appears in: Friday Film Club