For adults who want to show children a purer form of comedy, CITY LIGHTS is your movie. This sweet but comic slapstick classic shows Charlie Chaplin deceiving a blind flower girl to gain her love. It is an extraordinarily fun movie for kids, and a valuable one. If they've never seen a silent film, they'll be impressed. And as for good lessons, kids may learn that appearances can be deceptive, and a man with nothing to his name can be as honorable, as much of a gentleman, as a millionaire can.
As an actor, Chaplin is a marvel, conveying astonishing emotional depth through the silent antics of his little tramp. As a director, he demonstrates an impeccable sense of timing with difficult, gracefully choreographed stunts. The entire family may bust a collective gut watching him skitter across a slippery dance floor, or outmaneuver an imposing boxing opponent, but then be rendered speechless by the poignant ending. To blink while watching is to miss something. Like Modern Times, another Chaplin masterpiece, this film touches on some sensitive issues, but doesn't become weighed down by them. A morose drunk man makes repeated suicide attempts, although the audience never feels there's any danger of his success. As for the example the tramp sets by posing as a wealthy man to win a blind girl's favor, it's dishonest but also an act of nobility, of selflessness because he wants to help her even though he himself has nothing.