City Lights (1931)

Directed by Charlie Chaplin

In this sound-era silent film, a tramp falls in love with a beautiful blind flower seller.

More than any other classic author, Dickens would have got the movies. He was halfway to inventing them. Is a film like City Lights (1931), with its peculiar braiding of poverty, slapstick, and simpering romance, conceivable without Dickens? (The early chapters of Chaplin’s “My Autobiography,” published in 1964, read like the last pleading gasp of Victorian fiction.) And who was the main legatee of Dickens’s discovery that a stylized exaggeration, in the gratifying of popular taste, can yank you closer to emotional truth? The answer has to be Walt Disney.

Anthony Lane (The New Yorker)