Monday, 14 October 2013

Alternate Best Actor 1931: Charlie Chaplin in City Lights

Charlie Chaplin did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying The Tramp in City Lights.

City Lights is an entertaining mostly silent comedy about the tramp trying to help a blind flower girl.

I have already reviewed Chaplin in one of his many many times playing the Tramp in The Circus for his sorta Oscar nomination. I was not overly thrilled by that performance, to say the least, although I thought he was fine The Circus was not the greatest showcase for Chaplin. Honestly the Circus was mostly about Chaplin work as a director and he honestly shafted himself a bit of an actor in that film. For the most part he ignored really doing too much with the Tramp's story and mostly it was a showcase for various set pieces made up by Chaplin the director. Chaplin mostly just put himself in the set pieces and just sort of was part of it, and did not try to stand out at all with in terms of his acting.

City Lights is a far better film as well as a far better example of Chaplin as The Tramp who shines equally with his performance here as he does with his direction of the film. This is Chaplin in top form as the tramp as every aspect of his performance truly shines right across the screen. There is of course the physical comedy that Chaplin was a master of and in City Lights he is at his very best. His timing in the film just flows beautifully with every single bit that comes throughout the film. Chaplin is always entertaining with his excellent timing as the Tramp who can be the greatest havoc yet always keeps such a gentle presence that works exceedingly well.

Something that was present in The Circus but always given the short end was the love story for The Tramp. In City Lights it is the primary focus of the film actually and the film benefits greatly from doing so. It is a simple story of the love the Tramp feels for a blind flower girl, although she thinks that he is rich. These scenes are some of the best moments in the film as they give a chance for Chaplin to bring such a great deal of charm to his role. He makes the Tramp incredibly endearing through the simplicity of the Tramp's love for the flower girl. It is not anything complex but it is wonderful to see just how genuine it is through Chaplin's unassuming smile.

Chaplin in City Lights is one of the best examples of his work as The Tramp as he excels in every facet from the story. Whether it is making every gag land just right in the full on comedy scenes, or bringing just the right amount of poignancy to the more somber moments, Chaplin makes every moment of this film glow all the brighter. Chaplin's work in City Lights is not just a gag machine even though this certainly is a humorous performance. Chaplin as well allows this film to be a movie story about The Tramp doing his best for true love, and Chaplin makes the final image of the film, when the blind girl can finally see The Tramp for who he is, such a sweet and heartwarming finale.


Michael McCarthy said...

Hmm, all of them could be in the top 5 i guess. I hope Fredric March still makes it in there though.

Anonymous said...

That scene in the boxing ring is one of the funniest things I've ever seen in a silent film.

Tanvir Bashar said...

Wat wud u say r chaplains top ten best performances and the ratings of them