10 Fun Facts About Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 Silent Film City Lights

December 6, 2018 7:06 am0 commentsViews: 389

Although director-writer-star Charles (Charlie) Chaplin’s City Lights was popular in its day, its timeless appeal is proven through recent awards: In 2008 the American Film Institute (AFI) ranked it the number one romantic comedy; in 2007 AFI ranked City Lights as the eleventh greatest movie of all time; and in 1991 the film received a National Film Registry Award from the National Film Preservation Board, USA).

City Lights Movie Facts

1. A tramp (Chaplin) falls in love with an impoverished flower girl (Virginia Cherrill) and helps her get sight-restoring eye surgery by taking on odd jobs, enduring unlikely accidents, and using money from an eccentric millionaire (Harry Myers) he befriends.

2. The 87-minute movie is silent except for a musical score and sound effects. Chaplin made City Lights during the sound era, but resisted pressure to make the film a talkie.

3. The Flower Girl Theme was written by Jose Padilla.

4. The scene in which the little tramp buys flowers from the girl was reportedly shot and re-shot 342 times in order to adequately relay the fact that the blind flower girl mistakes the tramp for a millionaire.

5. City Lights took over three years to produce, with shooting occurring off and on due to scheduling conflicts and problems among cast members (Chaplin and Cherrill did not work well together).

6. Subtitled, “A Comedy Romance in Pantomime,” City Lights was re-released on a 2-disc Special Edition DVD in 2004 and is considered to be Chaplin’s last silent masterpiece.

Information About Cast and Crew

7. Additional cast members include Florence Lee as the blind girl’s grandmother, Al Ernest Garcia as the millionaire’s butler, and Hank Mann as a prizefighter.

8. Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and D.W. Griffith started United Artists in 1919. The studio produced a barrage of hit films after an initial movie, A Woman of Paris (1923), bombed at the box office.

9. Filmmaker Woody Allen was quoted in The New Yorker magazine as saying: “City Lights and The Gold Rush and The Navigator and The General are the four great comedies, aren’t they?” Allen is not alone in believing the films of Charles Chaplin and Buster Keaton (The Navigator [1924] and The General [1927]) to be among the greatest comedy classics.

10. Chaplin was highly controversial in his time, reportedly inspiring Adolf Hitler to copy his style of mustache, author Vladimir Nabokov to write Lolita based on Chaplin’s relationship with a much-younger female, and the House Un-American Activities Committee to deport him based on political beliefs expressed in his films Modern Times (1936) and Monsieur Verdoux (1947).


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