This week, I am going to start a little series of movies that should have most definitely been at least nominated for an Academy Award but were robbed. If you know me, you know I am a die-hard Charlie Chaplin fan. One of my first MotW’s was for his biopic starring Robert Downey Jr. (if you haven’t checked it out I highly recommend you do).
Charlie Chaplin was a man against the changing of the tides. He was one of the brave directors, back in that long-lost time where people were actually afraid of sound becoming a thing in movies. Times were crazy starting in 1927 with the release of The Jazz Singer. Things only got worse when every major studio started to push everything into the sound eras, cranking out “talkies” left and right.
Chaplin stood strong, and in 1931 came City Lights, which is considered one of the greatest comedies of all time. Heck, he didn’t even start actually including sound until 1934 when Modern Times came out.
Now I know the Academy Awards has their little opposition to comedies, focusing merely on dramas. But City Lights is one of those rare gems of a movie that Chaplin was so good at. One minute you’re laughing your head off, the next you’re shedding tears. His character, the oh-so-lovable Tramp has gone down in film history.
For those of you who don’t know the story, The Tramp falls in love with a blind-girl who cannot raise the money for a surgery that could give her sight, so he sets out to earn the money for her. The movie is filled with laughs and tears, holding out as one of the best films of all time even though it was then an oddity to be released.
I got the chance to see this on the big screen several years ago as part of a Charlie Chaplin marathon at SIFF, and it was absolutely amazing. Chaplin put so much effort into getting everything so absolutely perfect that he made Virginia Cherrill do a scene 342 times. The end result was having one of the greatest final scenes in a movie ever.
If you haven’t seen this movie, then you really must. It is one of my all time favorites and one that will leave you happy. Don’t we all need a reminder of love at this time of year?