City Lights (1931)
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Directed by: Charlie Chaplin
Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Harry Myers, Florence Lee
City Lights ranked # 76 on the American Film Institute's Top 100 American Films list.
City Lights is a 1931 film written by, directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin also composed the musical score which comprised the majority of the film's sound, since there is no dialogue in the picture.
The Circus, released in 1928, was Chaplin's last film to debut before motion pictures with sound (known as "talkies" at the time) took over.
Since The Circus, sound pictures quickly took over as the industry standard. It was not uncommon for silent actors to oppose the arrival of talking pictures. Had Chaplin been anybody else, he probably would not have been able to shoot City Lights as a silent film, but because of his power in Hollywood, and because he had almost complete control over his work, he was able to make this film silent (except for music, a few sparse sound effects, and some unintelligble sounds that mock speech). Dialogue is presented with title cards.
Charlie Chaplin was known for being a perfectionist; he was famous for doing many more takes than other directors at the time. At one point he actually fired Virginia Cherrill and began re-filming with Georgia Hale, Chaplin's co-star in The Gold Rush. This proved too expensive, even for his budget, and so he later re-hired Cherrill and was able to finish City Lights.
Several well-known directors have praised City Lights. Orson Welles has been quoted as saying that this is his favorite movie of all time.
In 1963, the American magazine Cinema asked Stanley Kubrick what he felt were the top-ten films; he listed City Lights at number 5.
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