Fun Size Review: City Lights (1931)

Charlie Chaplin makes an eloquent (and silent) defense of the art of pantomime in this sensitive dramedy with a deceptively simple story. He is a tramp who loves a blind flower girl and he will do anything to help her get her sight back. A ballet of slapstick blends with gentle melancholy.


How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.

Very simple scene, very complicated to explain. Chaplin gets the money to restore the girl’s sight but has to go to prison as a result. When he is released, he meets the girl, her sight restored, and she finally learns her benefactor’s true identity, a mere tramp. Whether this scene is joyous, tragic or something in between, well, that’s up to the viewer.

If it were a dessert it would be:

Spun sugar. Deceptively simple, created with great skill, delicate and light.

(Read my full-length review here.)

Availability: Released as a DVD/ Blu-ray combo by the Criterion Collection.


  1. nitrateglow

    A beautiful romantic-comedy.

    Say, do you remember when TCM played this film on their Essentials program a few years back and co-host Alec Baldwin said our modern equivalents of Charlie Chaplin were Ben Stiller and Jim Carey?? If that’s as close as we have to Chaplin, then things are sorry indeed.

    1. Fritzi Kramer

      Oh dear lord. Statements like that make me glad that I don’t have cable. This obsession with finding the exact modern equivalent of silent stars is such a waste of time. The comparisons are instantly dated. (Did you know that John Gilbert was the Kurt Russell of the 20s? Then you have to explain who the Kurt Russell of the 2010s is.)

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