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  • Gareth Crook

City Lights (1931) - 8/10

There’s no messing around with this, Chaplin’s 7th outing as The Tramp. He’s literally unveiled in the opening scene. It doesn’t have much baring on the story, a mere appetiser to ease us in, before we get to the famous flower girl scene and The Tramp falls in love. He does this a lot doesn’t he, but he’s so sweet. As is his source of affection, the blind girl (Virginia Cherrill), beautiful but lonely… a bit like The Tramp. There is a bit more filler in City Lights, budgets were getting bigger, as does the cast and the sets. It all still works though as The Tramp meets and saves a millionaire (Harry Myers) at the end of his rope. He’s a flamboyant drunk, perfect for Chaplin to play off of. They’re both quick to defend each other’s honour, getting into scrapes at parties and running around town on the millionaire’s dime. Until he once more runs into the girl and she again mistakenly takes him for a richer man, but falls for him. Does she love the man or the money? When The Tramp’s wealthy friend sobers up, he’s a different man. Leaving The Tramp to find ways of helping the girl who’s luck is going from bad to worse. Of course, each opportunity giving Chaplin the chance to raise his slapstick game. Soon though, The Tramp realises that the situation with the girl is more desperate than he thought. This is the thing about these films, yes they’re funny, light in tone on the surface, but they’re brimming with heart. The Tramp is the epitome of that heart, he’s selfless, willing to take on any cause and willing to go the distance, even putting himself in danger in the boxing ring against a ruthless prizefighter and giving up he’s freedom over a misunderstanding with the law. I’m typical fashion it goes round the houses to reach it’s inevitable end, but the finale will melt your heart. I’ve not found anything to match The Kid yet, but this comes close.



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