Skip to main content
Music

See also:

Charlie Chaplin's 'City Lights' - SF Symphony Accompanies 1931 Classic, 4/12

This Saturday Night, April 12th, conductor Richard Kaufman leads the San Francisco Symphony as they accompany a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 silent masterpiece, City Lights at Davies Symphony Hall. It is one of Chaplin’s finest performances as the Little Tramp. Long recognized as one of the greatest films ever made and with the greatest ending ever envisioned, the American film Institute ranks City Lights in first place among the top ten romantic comedies ever produced.

Charlie Chaplin and Virginia Cherrill. City Lights (1931)
Charlie Chaplin and Virginia Cherrill. City Lights (1931)
Warner Bros.

City Lights is distinguished by Chaplin’s use of sound effects and composing his own clever and poignant score. It is also tinged by the fact that Chaplin appropriated a very popular song, José Padilla’s, "La Violetera" (Who’ll Buy My Violets) as the recurring theme for his love interest – a blind girl selling flowers on the street. Not only did Chaplin not secure permission to use the music, he fought the composer three years later in a Parisian court and lost. Chaplin went through no less than 342 takes before the scene of his first encounter with the girl met with his satisfaction. Played by Virginia Cherrill, who would later admit she was not much of an actress, it turns out she was the perfect foil for Chaplin’s unique character and brand of storytelling.

Conductor Richard Kaufman is widely known for these concert presentations of classic films. Included in his repertoire are Bride of Frankenstein, Casablanca, Pirates of the Caribbean, Psycho, Singin' in the Rain, and Vertigo. On Saturday, April 19, Kaufman will conduct the Virginia Arts Festival Orchestra in a special concert presentation of the 1925 silent classic, Ben-Hur, starring Ramon Novarro and Francis X. Bushman. The occasion marks the world premiere of a new score composed by Stewart Copeland. It is a 90-minute version of the film highlighting the key elements of the plot and, of course, the spectacular sea battle and chariot race.

City Lights screens at 8:00. Click here to purchase tickets on-line.