You could switch on Turner Classic Movies really at any time today—a day dedicated to the films of Charlie Chaplin—and see something funny, beautiful, and masterfully choreographed. TCM is showing a mix of shorts and features, interspersed with documentaries and video essays about Chaplin. But if you’re a Chaplin novice, and you can only watch one movie from today’s line-up, tune in at 12:30 a.m. Eastern for City Lights. A near-miraculous mix of slapstick, sentiment, and storytelling, City Lights stars Chaplin as his signature character The Tramp, who does everything he can think of—sweeping streets, competing as a prizefighter, befriending a capricious alcoholic millionaire—to try and help a blind flower girl get the money she needs for sight-restoring surgery. As with a lot of Chaplin’s features, City Lights takes gags and sketches that could’ve easily been parceled out into two-reelers and organizes them around a theme and a plot, such that it breezes along like anthology of great comic bits and then sucker-punches the audience at the end with a scene that’s sweetly devastating. Chaplin made plenty of other amazing films—some of which are far more incisive and daring—but City Lights is his most perfect creation.
August 14, 2014 newsreel