Charles ChaplinUSA87 minutes1931B&WSilent
From its famous opening where the Little Tramp is discovered asleep in the lap of a newly erected statue, City Lights is essential Chaplin. Chronicling the Tramp's unrequited romance with a blind flower seller and his attempts to raise money for an operation to restore her sight, Chaplin pointedly contrasts the lifestyles of the urban rich and poor, cementing the trend of social commentary that he had been steadily injecting into his brilliantly refined formula of comedy/pathos/romance. Full of classic slapstick setpieces, City Lights also ends with one of the most famous close-ups in film history: a perfect encapsulation of the intense, yearning emotion underlying Chaplin's comic mastery.
Print courtesy of the TIFF Film Reference Library.