Sunday, 22 November 2009

Chaplin's Back In Town !

I couldn't make last week's Gone With the Wind return. This week, I am hoping to redeem myself as another cinema great returns !

Charlie Chaplin's 1931 romantic comedy "
City Lights" is coming to the Concert Hall with the original score performed by the full Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. One show only: Thursday November 26 at 8 pm.

City Lights is considered by many to be Chaplin's best work and still ranks highly among Hollywood classics.

It was a Chaplin project from beginning to end. He produced, directed, edited, wrote the score and most of the screenplay and, of course, acted in the lead role in his 'Tramp' persona. He bankrolled it to the tune of $1.5m and shot it almost entirely on his own studio lot.

There was great anticipation for this picture. It was three years in the making and fans were desperate to see Chaplin back on the screen. Though 'silent pictures' were a becoming a thing of the past Chaplin knew that his Tramp's antics couldn't translate to talkies after all those silent years so he gave fans an interesting innovation: a full orchestral score. Add to that very favourable reviews from L.A. and New York and a visit to the city by Chaplin himself and the 'Peg was abuzz by the time it opened at the Garrick on April 24, 1931.

How were the reviews ? The Manitoba Free Press of April 25, 1931 said: "'City Lights' is the best work of a cinema genius. See it by all means and take your children". Of course Chaplin was already known to Winnipeg audiences. He toured through here many times with vaudeville groups. The Free Press seemed equally impressed with him during a stint at the Empress Theatre in November 1912:

If you want to check out tickets to the event.

Downtown Winnipeg
If you want to make it a full-Chaplin night, you should grab a beer and some nosh at the Windsor Hotel, (or at least walk by and wave to Chaplin on the balcony !). It was here that Chaplin wrote his family to break the news that he was leaving the stage as he had been offered a movie contract in Hollywood !

Charlie Chaplan
The letter appeared in a Chaplin biography and a framed copy on hotel letterhead, then called the LeClaire Hotel, can be found in the lounge.

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