|Starring||Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Harry Myers|
People go to the movies because they want to feel happy. No one understood this fact more than Charlie Chaplin. And it was never more perfectly realized than CITY LIGHTS.
After awakening from a good night's sleep on a city statue, the destitute Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) meets a beautiful, blind flower girl (Virginia Cherrill) and buys a flower. Hours later, the Tramp prevents the suicide of a millionaire (Harry Myers) on the waterfront. Salvation! Celebration! Intoxication! After a night of drunken chaos, the Tramp wakes up in the millionaire's house and asks his new pal for money. Feeling pity for the flower girl, the Tramp uses his newfound "wealth" to buy all of her flowers, then drive her home in the millionaire's Rolls-Royce. From there, CITY LIGHTS gracefully unfolds with misunderstandings, burglaries, jail sentences, a very unlikely boxing match, and one of the most famous final shots in the history of movies.
Prior to CITY LIGHTS, Chaplin's goal was to make people laugh. Just like Buster Keaton. Just like Laurel & Hardy. Just like Hal Roach and Mack Sennett and everybody working in motion picture comedy. But with this movie, the straight-forward slapstick of Chaplin's earlier two-reelers (ONE A.M., BEHIND THE SCREEN) was balanced with something else. Something that his feature-films like THE KID and THE GOLD RUSH had only hinted at -- genuine emotion. This was Chaplin's creative breakthrough, his realization that movies could be utilized for more than kicks-to-the-pants and pie fights. With over a decade of technical precision under his belt, Chaplin created a warm, hilarious, and beautiful non-maudlin romantic comedy that changed the world. To this day, CITY LIGHTS continues to change the world, simply because it makes people happy. And that's not always an easy thing to do. (Joseph A. Ziemba)