City Lights

1931
Charlie Chaplin

9/10 (uneven pacing)

Justifiably one of the most famous of all Chaplin’s movies. This was the last completely silent film he made, to the ridicule of producers but the delight of audiences. It is not as laugh-out-loud funny as some of his other most famous silent films, but it still has excellent physical comedy while the Tramp pals around with his drunken millionaire friend. Writing the review a couple of months after seeing it, there are two memories that jump out: 1) the brilliant boxing scene where Chaplin tries to win a $50 purse and ends up shadowing the ref to avoid getting hit, and 2) the ending, which is one of the most emotionally touching you will ever see. Words can’t do it justice, so everyone should just watch. It’s only an hour and a half anyway.

The following goes for all Chaplin films that will appear here. I am ashamed that it took me as long as it did to begin watching his films and appreciate him as an artist. The first movies of his that I viewed, I literally sat slack-jawed as I watched. Nothing I had seen of modern entertainers prepared me for the virtuosity of this one man. Nothing we have nowadays even approaches the level of talent that he (and IMO to a lesser extent Buster Keaton) displayed. He was an artist in the true sense of the word. Just think: the amount of talent necessary to write, direct, choreograph, invent, compose music for, and act in all of these productions staggers the imagination. Just look at the list in that last sentence. HE DID ALL OF THOSE THINGS BY HIMSELF, FOR LIKE 30 YEARS, WITH MORE THAN 20 MOVIES! I consider him on the same level as Shakespeare, Mozart and Dante for what he has done with the arts. Who living even approaches the shadow that Chaplin cast in terms of all-around entertainment value? I defy you to name even one person.

It pisses me off that he’s not better appreciated nowadays.

18 March 2010

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