• City_lights_supp_current_large

    Charlie Chaplin has such an easygoing, lovable on-screen persona, and his films such a graceful, effortless charm, that it’s easy to forget that the actor-director was a maniacal perfectionist. The following footage of Chaplin directing a crucial scene from his masterpiece City Lights was caught on 16 mm by the filmmaker’s good friend the artist Ralph Barton. As the narrator, Chaplin historian Hooman Mehran, explains, this particularly fussed-over scene is a good example of the relentless precision with which Chaplin directed actors and composed shots (wait until you hear how many takes it took to get it right). See a lot more of this and other behind-the-scenes footage on our new special edition of City Lights.


  • By Joshua Warren
    November 14, 2013
    04:16 PM

    300 takes! Wow, and everyone complains about the 'excessiveness' of Kubrick putting Scatman Crothers through some 60 takes during the making of The Shining.
  • By RealCriterion
    November 20, 2013
    03:43 PM

    There's always an element of perfection in every frame of a Chaplin film, and most frames are worthy of a pause to truly take into account the vast array of information he's signalling to an audience. 300 is an extreme, almost sadistic, amount of takes for this particular scene -- which, as the video says, runs a measly 3 minutes -- but we can't argue with Chaplin's creative process when we're left with such masterpieces.