Rare Footage of Charlie Chaplin Directing Take After Take for City Lights

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 18 2013 10:54 AM

Watch Rare Footage of Charlie Chaplin Directing City Lights

1384788940
The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) meets The Blind Girl (Virginia Cherrill) in City Lights

United Artists

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.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Jurisprudence

Scalia’s Liberal Streak

The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.

Colorado Is Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Culturebox

Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
The Slate Quiz
Sept. 18 2014 11:44 PM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.