Watched Charlie Chaplin's 1931 Silent Film "City Lights"

"A day without laughter is a day wasted."
Charlie Chaplin

“City Lights” is number 11 on the AFI 100.  It’s a silent film written, directed and starring Charlie Chaplin.  I’m not sure I had ever seen a feature length silent film before, but I really enjoyed this film.

Chaplin plays a homeless and destitute wanderer, who in the credits is just called “The Tramp”.
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In the beginning of the film, he meets his love interest, a blind Flower Girl, played by Virginia Cherrill.

Later that night, he meets a wealthy man, played by Harry Myers, who is drunk and attempting to commit suicide.  The Tramp convinces him to live, and the millionaire in his gratitude ends up showering him with gifts.

There were a ton of great scenes with hilarious well-timed physical comedy.  In one of them, The Tramp swallows a whistle at a party thrown by the millionaire and gets the hiccups causing him to uncontrollably blow the whistle while everyone is looking at him.

The plot takes all kinds of turns I did not expect it to.  Desperate for money to help the Flower Girl, the Tramp signs up for a boxing match for the prize money.  It doesn’t seem like a natural story arc, but it makes for a really fun and humorous sequence.

This film is not only a classic because of when it came out.  It’s also a really good movie.  I was pleasantly surprised that a silent film could have this level of interesting plot on top of well choreographed physical comedy.  There were moments when they had one or two lines of subtitle, but those were never used to convey emotion.  That was all on the screen. 

Charlie Chaplin and the rest of the cast show what motivates each character, and it’s very fun to watch on screen.  If you haven’t seen this film, check it out.  It’s worth it!

Related Items:
City Lights on DVD
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