City Lights

City Lights Summary and Analysis of Part 2: A Night Out


The men drink a few toasts and the Millionaire keeps pouring and pouring. When the Tramp sits down on the sofa, the butler scolds him for getting it wet, as the Millionaire brings him more to drink, making another toast. The Tramp is now drunk; stumbling, he knocks his head into a nearby piano. When he lands in a chair, he begins to light a cigarette, when suddenly he realizes that the Millionaire has grabbed a pistol and is making moves to shoot himself. He runs and speaks to the Millionaire, trying to comfort him, when suddenly the millionaire shoots a nearby chair with the gun.

The Tramp falls onto a couch and the Millionaire falls with a thud onto the piano nearby. In another sudden change of heart, the Millionaire declares that he wants to live, and a smile spreads across his face. He calls to the butler, and tells him to get the Rolls-Royce, so they can go out and celebrate. The men change for their evening out.

We see a dance hall, where many couples dance. The Millionaire and the Tramp arrive at the dance hall and drunkenly stumble over to a table. On the way, the Tramp falls on the dance floor, much to the amusement of the other patrons. He tucks his napkin into his waistband and generally makes a fool of himself as the Millionaire puts a cigar in his mouth and tries to get him to get things under control.

As the men begin to eat their dinners, the Tramp throws his cigar over his shoulder and it lands on the chair nearby just as a woman is sitting down in it. Suddenly, she jumps out of her chair startled, and the bow on the back of her dress is smoking. The Tramp tries to put out the fire, first with his hands, then with a bottle of water.

When a man at a nearby table goes to sit down, the Millionaire mistakenly grabs his chair as his own, and the man falls on the ground. When he confronts the Millionaire about it, the Millionaire picks a fight, but the Tramp holds him back. Suddenly, streamers begin to fall from the ceiling. As the Tramp eats his spaghetti dinner, a streamer gets in his mouth and he begins to eat it with the spaghetti, not noticing for a minute. He keeps chewing it until the Millionaire pulls it out of his mouth, before eating his spaghetti in an especially comical way.

A couple begins dancing wildly on the dance floor. When the man throws the woman across the floor performatively, the Tramp goes to help her and almost gets in a fight with the man, but people hold him back.

As people dance, the Tramp is overtaken with the desire to dance, grabbing a woman and spinning wildly with her on the dance floor.

The next morning, the Tramp accompanies the Millionaire home in his car. The Millionaire drives poorly, going up onto sidewalks and nearly hitting people several times. When the Tramp tells him to be careful, it becomes clear that the Millionaire is so drunk he doesn't even realize he's driving, and the Tramp takes the wheel.

Back at the Millionaire's house, the Tramp tells him that he likes his car, and the Millionaire offers for him to keep it. The butler comes out and collects the Millionaire, then kicks the Tramp out. Sitting on the stoop, the Tramp suddenly sees the blind Flower Girl walking past.

Inside, the Millionaire asks the butler where the Tramp went and insists that he invite the Tramp back inside. Running in, the Tramp tells the Millionaire they ought to buy some flowers and the Millionaire hands him a wad of cash. The Tramp runs out and flags down the Flower Girl, buying all of her flowers from her. When he hands her $10, she tells him she doesn't have any change, but he tells her to keep it and takes her arm.

At the mansion, the Tramp tells James, the butler, to bring the flowers inside, and helps the Flower Girl into the Millionaire's car, taking it out for a drive. He drives her home, helping her to the steps of her grandmother's house and kissing her hand. "May I see you home again?" he asks, to which she responds, "Whenever you wish, sir."

The Tramps smells a flower he bought, when suddenly a cat in a window overhead knocks a pot off of its sill. It goes crashing into the Tramp's head, just as the Flower Girl emerges from her own window. The Tramp climbs on top of a barrel to spy on the Flower Girl, when a man from the apartment below comes out, startling the Tramp. He overturns the barrel accidentally, and goes running to his car, driving away.


The film remains centered around Charlie Chaplin's irresistible charisma as a performer. The combination of his physicality and his expressiveness make him the visual centerpiece of nearly every shot in the film, and he has a gift for the specificity of gesture. In watching the film, the viewer sees clearly why Charlie Chaplin was such a beloved movie hero and a household name in his time.

The Millionaire's drunkenness and suicidal tendencies become a comic detail in the broader funhouse of the film. Even after the Tramp has saved his life and they have returned to his mansion, the Millionaire is overcome by sudden jolts of suicidal ideation. Immediately after drinking a toast, he runs and grabs a pistol from a nearby drawer, and the Tramp must wrestle the gun out of his hand to prevent him from killing himself. The choreography is more comic than dramatic; in the Chaplin universe, even suicide can be a laughing matter.

Indeed, the structure of the narrative in City Lights follows a similar back-and-forth to the quick switches that define the Millionaire's temperament. One minute things are looking down, and the next they take a turn and start looking up. The film begins with the Tramp stumbling through life without a home, then the next minute he is in love and the friend of an eccentric millionaire. In the Chaplin universe, poverty and wealth, happiness and tragedy, good fortune and bad luck, are two sides of the same coin.

A great deal of the comedy in the film is a result of dramatic irony. Often the laughs come from the fact that we as the viewer know something that the Tramp or another character does not. For instance, at the dance hall and restaurant, a majority of the humor comes from the Tramp's complete absent-mindedness and unawareness. He throws a cigar on a woman's chair, then starts eating streamers like they're spaghetti without even realizing. The viewer watches as he begins to consume the decorations, knowing more than he does. This discrepancy in knowledge and awareness creates the humor of the moment.

In this film, we see an unlikely romance begin to blossom between the Tramp and the Flower Girl. The bumbling and incompetent Tramp becomes a natural charmer in the girl's presence, and she is delighted to by his attention, especially since she mistakes him for a much wealthier man. The film's depiction of their growing affection is tender and sweet, even if it is closely followed by slapstick antics. While the Tramp sighs affectionately about their drive home together, a cat knocks a flower pot from a sill above onto his head.