Out-Takes From “City Lights”

Film Notes

If scholars were asked to identify the most important studies on Charles Spencer Chaplin, David Gill and Kevin Brownlow’s landmark documentary Unknown Chaplin (1983), would be at the top of the list. Besides providing fascinating perspectives on Chaplin’s working methods, this film shared the remarkable discovery that a number of the filmmaker’s out-takes survived. Though grateful for the privilege of learning so much from Unknown Chaplin, many Chaplin enthusiasts could not help but wonder what additional information might be gleaned from the out-takes that were not included in this 156 minute program. While representing a relatively small part of the collection of Chaplin’s out-takes housed at the British Film Institute in London, the City Lights footage offers some interesting information about this film. Included in this screening is an excised scene of the tramp with Albert Austin as a dust man, repeated shots of the tramp and the millionaire in the cabaret that reveal Chaplin’s efforts at polishing this scene, and documentary footage of the film’s premiere. Most of this material has never before been shown in public. As with previous out-takes, this footage helps us to appreciate Chaplin all the more.

Frank Scheide

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