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City Lights (1931)

Virginia Cherrill , Harry Myers , Charles Chaplin  |  G |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Virginia Cherrill, Harry Myers, Charles Chaplin
  • Directors: Charles Chaplin
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 8, 2000
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305759774
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,875 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "City Lights" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Chaplin's own score in two version: the original 1931 mono soundtrack, or a new digitally-recorded PCM stereo version
  • An interview with composer-conductor Carl Davis, who reconstructed the score in honor of the Chaplin Centennial in 1989
  • Bonus Material: Original story notes, production data & publicity items

Editorial Reviews

With "City Lights," Charlie Chaplin gambled that the power of good storytelling and the appeal of The Little Tramp could overcome any perceived advantages of the captivating but still primitive technology of sound. His gamble paid off as critics and fans alike raved about this touching and simple story of a young blind woman who believes the Little Tramp is a wealthy duke. In a series of comic adventures that only Chaplin could pull off, The Tramp sets out to earn the money that will pay for an operation to restore the young woman's sight. While he succeeds, his efforts land him in jail, but the girl still has a successful operation and yearns to meet her benefactor. The closing scene in which she discovers that he is not a wealthy duke but only The Little Tramp was described by critic James Agee as "the highest moment in movies" and brought the audience to tears.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable. My favorite Chaplin film January 29, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Though some here and in other circles have remarked that they believe "City Lights" is overrated and over-sentimental, I still believe that one cannot deny how moving and beautiful the film becomes as it draws toward its conclusion. "City Lights" remains my favorite Chaplin movie with "Modern Times" coming in at a close second. Chaplin plays his classic Tramp character who falls for a blind flower girl and wants to help her earn money for an operation to cure blindness. The boxing scene in which the scrawny Chaplin takes on a seasoned prize fighter is the major comic highlight of the film featuring gags that have been imitated and recycled by countless other comedies. The finale is nothing short of touching, beautiful, and brilliant and shows perfectly the full emotion that can be conveyed in a silent picture. This is one of the few films that still, time and time again, can bring tears to my eyes. "City Lights" is a masterpiece.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Ending -- great score February 16, 2000
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
a must for any movie collection. the dvd version is clean and provides two audio options, the original mono and a rich version re-recorded in stereo in 1989 for Chaplin's centennial. the stereo score adds quite a bit to the mood of the film.
of interest as well, is a brief collection of annotation/changes by Chaplin to the original concept of the film.
the movie itself is a great tribute to Chaplin's genius. there is the wonderful story line with great humorous moments like the 'audio' joke in the beginning, the whirlwind dance scene, the boxing match, then it ends... well, the end is acted simply but precisely and is compelling in its ambiguity. absolutely one of the greatest cinematic ending of all time.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Little Tramp's apotheosis. April 15, 2003
By A Customer
A few years after the advent of "talkies", Charlie Chaplin, with his 1931 film *City Lights*, provided the much-needed reminder that cinema remained (remains) a VISUAL medium. Two people yapping at each other while sitting on a divan was simply not going to cut the mustard, a fact that a visionary like Chaplin saw from the beginning. Right at the outset he makes fun of the incessant jabber that had sprung up in the movies after the discovery of sound synchronization. In a public square, a politico squawks incoherently while dedicating a new statue. He sounds, in fact, rather like the teacher on the Peanuts Gang cartoons: "bwah bwah bwah". Later in the scene, Chaplin's Little Tramp squawks too . . . and that's the only concession to "talking" in *City Lights*. After that, it's back to basics, meaning: gags, drunken gags, slapstick gags in a boxing ring, and of course the vaunted Chaplinesque sentimentality, laid on thick here via a poor blind girl who sells flowers for a living. It can be argued that the gags and their set-ups might not be quite as inspired (or funny) as the ones in his earlier films. Chaplin was in his early forties here, and it shows: he's less physically agile; he looks a bit tired, occasionally (though not during that famous boxing scene). Even so, there's an almost defiant tinge to the stunts and the humor, an "I'm still here!" attitude that seems to say that even if the repertoire is getting tired, no one can do it better than the film's director and star. For me, what pushes the movie from 4 Stars to 5 Stars is the devastating and ambiguous last sequence, which will hit you in the solar plexus so hard that tears will be forced from your eyes. Somehow the astonishing climax rises above the typically sentimental set-up and attains the pinnacle of artistic sublimity. James Agee opined that the finale constituted the "highest moment in the history of the movies". He may be right.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Imperfect Print Tarnishes Tramp's Masterpiece April 14, 2004
By Jon Oye
City Lights is one of the shining achievements in the history of the movies, and it's been among my personal favorites for many years. So I was disappointed, after purchasing the new Warner Home Video DVD, to discover that the print they used is slightly dark and fuzzy, markedly inferior to its stunning laserdisc predecessor of some ten years ago.
In the early '90's I bought the CBS/Fox laserdisc of CL, which was transferred from a nearly flawless print (from "Chaplin's personal archives", as stated in the notes, and probably from the same negative as the one that was re-released to theaters for Chaplin's centennial in 1989). This LD version is so clean, sharp and vivid it looks as though it could have been filmed last week. In the boxing scene, for example, you can actually pick out a number of mannequins that were used among the live actors in the audience, and you can clearly see the wire that carries Charlie across the ring when he leaps at his opponent. On the DVD, however, not only can you not see the wire, the audience seems little more than a dark, murky mass rather than individual figures. Granted, maybe our disbelief is more happily suspended if we don't see what's suspending Charlie, but we certainly don't deserve murky masses where they aren't supposed to be.
Beyond using a superior print, CBS/Fox also went to the trouble of window boxing the transfer for their laserdisc release. That is, in order to preserve the nearly square aspect ratio of the original film, black bars were placed on the left and right sides of the screen to compensate for showing the top and bottom of the picture - the vertical counterpart of letterboxing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars makes me wish I was born about 100 years ago somewhere near Hollywood...
Ahh... makes me wish I was born about 100 years ago somewhere near Hollywood so that I could experience it while it was still a wonderfully creative place! Read more
Published 25 days ago by Brian
5.0 out of 5 stars It was great
Most humorous silent movie I've seen in years, I really enjoyed watching this movie for my online American cinema course
Published 1 month ago by Veshalica Castaneda
5.0 out of 5 stars great movie
though the movie is silent it conveys such emotion. had a little bit of everything comedy, drama, romance. Loved it
Published 2 months ago by sandra goncalves
5.0 out of 5 stars Best silent movie I've ever seen.
Chaplin is brilliant. Almost makes you wonder why they ever added audio. So much of acting can be performed without speech. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Spencer K. Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius!
More of a tragic comedy than a romantic comedy. He brings optimism to dismal realities in such a fun and creative way.
Published 4 months ago by Bridgett
5.0 out of 5 stars City Lights - yes
Sad and funny simultaneously; ending grabs you and unforgettable film of the human condition. See it. And see it more than once
Published 5 months ago by D. Simonoff
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
Incredible movie, doesn't even need dialogue to get it's story through.
Also very comical and sentimental.
I would highly recommend you watch this movie!
Published 6 months ago by Cameron
5.0 out of 5 stars Master of Expression
Indeed one of the best ever. CC understood and communicated on all the levels that film presented. And that without speech. Amazing!!
Published 6 months ago by James Corrigan
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, subtle comedy
The other day I was looking over the American Film Institute's list of the 100 best American movies, and noticed "City Lights" on it. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jim from Virginia
5.0 out of 5 stars Chaplin flicks…be them
How could a movie buff not love Chaplin. I have to get Modern Times too. You have to wait & sit with the movie and most of all loose your heart to it & then Chaplins inventions,... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Lucky One
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Any chance of City Lights being available at a lower price?
The latest price is about $39 for the DVD on Amazon. There is a region B blu-ray available at the UK Amazon, but it does not have the original score.
Feb 8, 2013 by Francis G. Lu |  See all 4 posts
Criterion blu-ray vs. Image DVD Be the first to reply
Purchase this DVD with original score! Be the first to reply
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