In 1949 critic James Agee wrote in Life magazine that the indescribable look on Charlie Chaplin’s face at the end of City Lights was the greatest piece of acting on celluloid ever recorded. The film is one of Chaplin’s masterpieces, mixing comedy and sentimentality brilliantly.
City Lights was released three years after the talkie revolution took Hollywood by storm. Chaplin added a music soundtrack and some sound effects, but decided not to add dialogue, trusting that his huge successes through facial and body language would continue. The opening scene of City Lights takes an immediate dig at the talkies: A mayor makes a political speech but all that comes out of his mouth are unintelligible squawks.
In February 1931, Sid Silverman – reviewing the film’s release for Variety – predicted that Chaplin would continue to make silent movies and continue to be hugely successful. It is a testament to Chaplin’s genius that almost a century later we can still be awed and still be brought to tears of joy and sorrow by his incredible films.
You can find more information on this U.S. movie on Wikipedia and IMDb.
As always, we recommend you don’t ruin any surprises by reading spoilers or watching this trailer:
Title: City Lights
Direction: Charles Chaplin
Screenplay: Charles Chaplin
Cinematography: Rollie Totheroh, Gordon Pollock, Mark Marklatt
Editing: Charles Chaplin
Score: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers, Al Ernest Garcia, Hank Mann, Robert Parrish, Henry Bergman, Albert Austin, Jean Harlow (uncredited extra)
City Lights is a masterpiece of satire. The opening sequence immediately sets the tone of the movie with the anarchic tramp ridiculing the civic pomposity. It is as well to remember the times of the film; great economic depression brought misery to millions. Never was the great divide between the “haves” and have nots” so cruelly exposed. Not only a movie masterpiece but a biting social comment.
So many movies on your front page I have not seen. I need to get into those old school films :).
Silent films really seem to be built for two genres: horror and slapstick comedy. While good spoken dialogue can really add a dimension to both of these genres, silent films have to rely more on images and music to tell the story and that often makes them a lot better at setting an atmosphere.
I love charlie chaplin! 🙂 I recently saw charlie chaplin in modern times, it was amazing.
I can never decide if the best movie ending belongs to City Lights or Some Like It Hot
Absolutely Great Film !!!