City Lights Synopsis
A group of civic dignitaries are assembled for the unveiling of a monument representing “Peace and Prosperity”. The veil falls - to reveal, cradled in the arms of “Prosperity”, the wretched figure of the Tramp. After getting hooked by his trousers on the sword held aloft by a recumbent statue, he flees from the angry assembly.
Later in the day, after a series of mishaps with police, insolent newsboys and a trapdoor in the pavement, he comes upon a blind flower-seller. He is moved by her pathos and beauty, while the chance slamming of a car door leads her to believe he must be a rich man.
That evening he dissuades an erratic and alcoholic millionaire from suicide. This new acquaintance proves an affectionate and generous friend when drunk, but distant and hostile in his sober moods, the morning after. Finding the flower girl absent from her place on the street corner, the Tramp visits the poor room where she lives. He learns that she is ill, but that a costly operation in Switzerland could restore her sight. In an effort to raise the money for the unpaid rent on her apartment he works as a street cleaner and as a prize fighter.
Luckily he again encounters the millionaire, who gives him the money he needs. He is able to pass it onto the girl before he is accused of robbing the millionaire - once again sober and forgetful - and is thrown into gaol.
Months later he is released, and by chance passes the elegant flower shop in which the now-cured flower girl is established, always hoping to meet her benefactor whom she supposes to be rich and handsome. She is amused by the passing vagrant, takes pity on him, and gives him a flower and a coin. Pressing them into his hand, she recognises him by touch. The two gaze enigmatically into each other’s eyes.