New York, NY: CITY LIGHTS (1931)

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New York, NY: CITY LIGHTS (1931)

PostWed Dec 19, 2007 9:33 am

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/n ... book_denby

Silent Nights
by David Denby

A long string of confetti is mistaken for spaghetti and gets eaten. A piece of soap, taken for cheese, is placed on bread and also is consumed. A man trying to commit suicide ties one end of a rope around a heavy rock but accidentally slips the noose at the other end around the neck of a friend, and then heaves the rock into the water. “City Lights,” Charlie Chaplin’s “comedy romance in pantomime,” from 1931, is about the hapless transfer of objects in an unstable and dangerous world. Chaplin’s Tramp is befriended by a drunken plutocrat at night and then thrown into the gutter by the same man the next morning, when he’s sober. The tramp escapes this nightmare by way of a loving and protective friendship with a blind flower girl. Chaplin makes jokes about blindness, but no one could argue with his tact. When the girl (Virginia Cherrill) recovers her sight, the suspense becomes unbearable: will she accept the shabby tramp as her cavalier? Film Forum screens a new 35-mm. print Dec. 25-Jan. 1, to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of Chaplin’s death.

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