City Lights (dir. Charlie Chaplin) USA, 1931 – 97 mins Cert: U
On Saturday 28 November, 1931, the Pavilion Cinema opened in Stirchley, Birmingham, a year after Oscar Deutsch opened the first ever Odeon in Perry Barr. Eighty-four years on to the day, we’re doffing our cap to Stirchley’s former cinemas (there were two of them back in the 30s – now a bowling alley/gym, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car), with a screening of one the biggest hits from that year, Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights.
In one of Chaplin’s most celebrated features, the little tramp falls in love with a blind flower girl, who thinks he’s a millionaire. Comedic chaos ensues, including a famous boxing match scene which sees the scrawny Chaplin up against muscle-man Hank Mann. And the final scene is one of the most poignant in film history in which the now-sighted girl sees her love for the very first time.
Released when talkies were commonplace, Chaplin took a gamble by pursuing with silent comedy, but it paid off as audiences flocked to the cinemas to see it, and critics cited it as a masterpiece. Now lauded as one of the greatest films ever made, City Lights is a total joy, and a perfect introduction to those new to silent film.
The venue for this family matinee is Stirchley’s most exciting upcoming addition – Stirchley Baths (no longer a swimming pool, but a brand new community centre scheduled to open officially in December).
Advance booking advised. Limited number of tickets available on the door.
Doors open at 10.30am.