Chaplin was never too strong on plot structure—his movies would wander all over the place, lingering here and lingering there—but more often than not he got something better than traditional dramatic unity. City Lights (1931), which wanders between episodes involving Charlie's love for a blind flower girl and his friendship with a drunken millionaire who doesn't know him when he's sober, is a beautiful example of Chaplin's ability to turn narrative fragments into emotional wholes. The two halves of the film are sentiment and slapstick. They are not blended but woven into a pattern as eccentric as it is sublime. With Virginia Cherrill.
By Dave Kehr