City Lights - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

City Lights Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ November 11, 2012
Chaplin's first sound film (but still with no voices, for he wanted it to be a universal tale) was this wonderful and funny movie of transition from the silents to the talkies, structured as a series of fantastic sketch-like scenes and with an incredibly moving, unforgettable last scene.
Super Reviewer
½ December 17, 2007
Lovely film, the ending is a killer.
Super Reviewer
½ October 9, 2012
Ahh, Chaplin. Your charm is unequivocally attractive. There's a flow -- a dance I would say -- to your performance. "City Lights" is an absolutely entertaining silent picture that exudes a universal charm, all cultures, ages, and generations are able to be involved with.

Chaplin is a master entertainer. As the lead actor and director of "City Lights", everything, down to the slapstick comedy, or the quiet and delicate dramatic moments, "City Lights" is a blast. In an era where Slapstick comedy has worn out, "City Lights" revives it despite being one of the first of the genre. In an era where drama is delivered with heart-tugging dialogue that is bolstered with convincing emotional expressions, "City Lights" delivers simply through great acting capability. Yes, it takes a lot of coals to get "City Lights" running from the opening chapter, but at the end of the day, the "city lights" light up brightly and doesn't cease until the end. This film is an immaculate, timeless, silent movie masterpiece that is surprisingly engaging throughout.
Super Reviewer
June 18, 2012
Like the music of the Beatles, how is it that Chaplin's work still feels so fresh? Does reverence color our perception or is the product just simply of superior quality? I would argue the latter as I believe that even without prior knowledge of the artists involved, anyone can understand the majesty of "Eleanor Rigby" or be significantly moved by Charlie Chaplin's 1931 film "City Lights."
First off, the film is uproariously funny. Even by modern day standards in which slapstick comedies aren't vogue, Chaplin manages to sell the most inane gags. This is aided obviously by the unrivaled power of his facial expressions. Sure they are comical and over the top, but they are expertly nuanced and give his "tramp" character much depth.
City Lights also encompasses not only timeless messages of love and fraternity, but also one of class distinction that would have been very palpable to American crowds mired in the consequences of the Great Depression. In fact, the film starts off with one of the more moving images I have seen in American cinema in which during an unveiling of a statue celebrating America's peace and prosperity, a crowd is stunned to find a homeless man, our tramp, sleeping on the monument. Chaplin not only pulled off a grand introduction for his protagonist, but also managed to sum up about one hundred years of American history in one scene. Simply stunning.
With the advent of talking pictures during this time, City Lights also utilizes sound in a creative way. From the indiscriminate mumbling of politicians to the tramp's involuntary whistling, Chaplin managed to satisfy those accustomed to traditional silent pictures and those searching for something a little more exciting in their entertainment.
Films of this caliber are rare and deserve every ounce of praise that they receive. Because whether you first witnessed this film during it's opening weekend or whether you stumbled upon it while scouring YouTube, I can almost guarantee that it put a smile on your face.
Super Reviewer
December 16, 2011
City Lights is the highest form of cinema art, it's perfect and works on every level to which Chaplin aspired: the comic, the dramatic, the asethetic and the profound. I screened it with two pre-teens and they were rapt, so the fact that it's silent, black and white and has weird old costumes and cars was not a deterrent for their enjoying this masterpiece. It's a film that never leaves the consciousness once it's been seen.

The story is an elemental fairy tale, a little tramp falls in love with a blind flower girl and becomes her guardian angel, and give up what little he has to save her and get her an operation. Somehow, when handled by Charlie, we buy in to this over the top melodrama, because of total commitment and honesty and superb execution, that holds back just enough to not wallow in bathos.

Watch for the balletic comedic set pieces, every deft move rehearsed by Chaplin and his supporting cast to perfection, yet all looking spontaneous. Watch for this film dealing honestly with human cruelty, (poverty, violence, class wars) but showing the goodness and kindness we all have latent in ourselves.

Most of all, watch for the most emotionally wrenching last scene ever shot, done simply with close ups of Chaplin and his costar Virgina Cherril as the Blind Girl. As one of the reviewer has already stated below, you'd have to be dead inside to not be moved. 2011's The Artist was a terrific acheivement at recreating silent film, but if you want to experience what silent film can truly acheive, take out City Lights. Interestingly, CIty Lights, like the story of The Artist, was made during the talkie era of 1931 and no one missed sound at all.
Super Reviewer
½ August 9, 2011
Chaplin could be as much of a mass manipulator in America as Leni Riefenstahl was in Germany - while his constant themes underlying the struggle of the have-nots under the tyrannical hands of the haves can be a bit too dualistically black and white, there's no denying that he knew how to make each member in the audience sympathize with the Little Tramp's misfortunes and misadventures. Here he is at his most effective at pulling the audience's heartstrings, and while the comic timing is a little off sometimes (the boxing sequence does go on more than it should), this remains one of those iconic cinematic gems whose payoff makes even the most cynical moviegoer fall for its sentimental trap.
Super Reviewer
½ March 21, 2011
A wonderful, classic film of the silent film era. Charlie Chaplin is nothing short of amazing here; he truly is a brilliant comedic performer. He delivers a hilarious and fantastic performance as The Tramp. Virginia Cherrill is also great as The Blind Girl, and she's adorable. This film is funny, sweet, cute, and a classic. I recommend it!
Super Reviewer
May 11, 2011
A cute little film which was fairly funny but obviously not of my time. I admire Chaplin for sticking with his "silent" films and I do believe this is a better movie for it. He did what he knew best. I couldn't make out at the end if she was still interested in him or not.
Super Reviewer
April 22, 2011
City Lights is probably one of the most well loved, along with Modern Times, Chaplin movies. The iconic and everlasting character of The Tramp, one of the most lovable, truly human and sympathetic characters perhaps of all time. Sometimes there is some hate towards tramps, like they are labeled lazy and troublesome. It is very hard to hate The Tramp, because he gives so much when he has so little. He spends his time and money giving to people - whether it be saying a millionaires life or buying a flower from a blind girl. Undoubtedly, we all have a little bit of The Tramp in us.

The plot is as follows: the Tramp meets and falls in love with a blind girl who sells flowers on the street. She is poor and by a mere coincidence, believes that The Tramp is rich. He also saves a drunken millionaire from suicide, and despite his gratefulness, doesn't remember the poor tramp unless he is drunk.

City Lights is no doubt a magnificent feat in motion picture history. It's poignant view of the world and society leaves you laughing and crying at the same time. Some believe this should really be called a drama instead of a comedy. I believe it is a strong mixture of both, and a great balance of the two. Both comedic and touching, City Lights should not be missed by anyone.
Super Reviewer
July 30, 2010
An undeniable classic which ranks amongst one of the best films ever made. It's funny, fast-moving, tragic, and ultimately moving, with an endearing lead character to boot. The Tramp is an unforgettable character, someone who stumbles in to riches then is thrown out on the streets, a figure who definitely doesn't fit in the world he lives in, but in the end, you care for him, just because how simply sweet and sacrificing he is. Charlie Chaplin couldn't have made this film any better, each scene is pitch-perfect and the way in which the humor is grasped by this master of comedy is really a treat to watch. The last scene is something else, nearly tear-jerking - it's just full of sheer beauty.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2010
Still funny after 79 years. Go Chaplin Go!
Super Reviewer
December 27, 2006
The Tramp: Be careful how you're driving.
Eccentric Millionaire: Am I driving?

A big deal to produce, seeing as how Chaplin opted to make this film after the "talkies" had been introduced, however it seems to have been worthwhile, because this is a fun, funny, and sweet movie.

Chaplin's character, this time, is faced with a new challenge - love. While going through his usual antics on the streets of the big city, the Tramp falls in love with a blind girl who sells flowers. She believes him to be a wealthy man and the Tramp does all he can to help her, including his attempts to help pay her rent. With some help from his friend, a millionaire who only recognizes the Tramp when he is drunk, he may have good fortune in the end.

The film is of course staged to make the best of Chaplin's comedic abilities in the realm of physical comedy, and he of course excels. There are a number of standout sequences, which all make the film worthwhile.
Super Reviewer
December 6, 2007
often considered the greatest film by the legendary charlie chaplin, city lights is a beautiful love story with tons of charm. although it drags a bit at the start, the story picks up and gets better and better as time goes on, providing a poetic ending with a bit of a twist. no one can deny chaplins genius, and this film is a great display of some of his most witty comedy. an all time classic.
Super Reviewer
½ April 29, 2008
what a great film. leave it to chaplin to make a successful silent film in the sound era, even mocking the talkies at the beginning. the little tramp befriends an alcoholic millionaire who conveniently never remembers him when sober. and that's just for starters. the boxing scene is some of the funniest stuff i've seen in any film ever. and that ending, well...
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2006
One of my new all-time favourite films. Has one of the best, most romantic tearful, endings ever. The best of the phenomeon that was Charlie Chaplin.
Super Reviewer
½ August 19, 2007
why are more people are familiar blow for blow and scene for scene w/ the three stooges' every friggen short and yet (most are) ignorant about this homegrown work of art, of brilliance, i'll never know, but it kinda points to a very serious little problem in our dearly beloved society if you ask me. a heartbreaking film about sacrifice that's so unbelievable you wouldn't believe it...unless you're lucky enough to have had someone do it for you...
Super Reviewer
January 22, 2007
This is a truly watchable classic. The madcap 30s humor may not be for everyone, but the emotional parts of the story are so simple and sweet that I can't imagine anyone turning a blind eye to it.

But then, I'm still sick and I tend to have odd emotional reactions to things when I'm not at my best, so maybe that has something to do with my appreciation for it. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt, though.
Super Reviewer
June 13, 2007
Chaplin's most tender, sympathetic and touching direct punch to the heart.
Super Reviewer
½ July 7, 2007
How can this film not win you over? The final shot is so powerful and so reminds us what a true genius Chaplin was.
Super Reviewer
March 11, 2007
City Lights: "a subtitled "A Comedy Romance in Pantomime," is generally viewed as Charlie Chaplin's greatest film - a "silent film" released three years after the start of the talkies era of sound. The melodramatic film, a combination of pathos, slapstick and comedy, was a tribute to the art of body language and pantomime - a lone hold-out against the assault of the talking film. "
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