In one of the most iconic scenes in Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights, Chaplin’s Tramp meets the blind flower girl played by Virginia Cherrill. That scene, it turns out, took hundreds of takes to get just right.
Rare footage of Chaplin directing the scene, captured on set by Chaplin’s close friend Ralph Barton, is included on the new Criterion Collection edition of the film. Historian Hooman Mehran narrates the footage, which finds Chaplin working painstakingly with the untrained Cherrill to get the exact performance he envisioned. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the known perfectionist at work, and something any cinephile or Chaplin enthusiast will appreciate.