Cinema: Hardy Perennial

City Lights (United Artists) was Charlie Chaplin's first movie of the sound-film era. Released in 1931, three years after the birth of the talkies, and billed as a comedy romance "in pantomime," it all but ignored sound. The film was Chaplin's stubborn, inspired rebuke to a screen which, in learning how to talk, seemed to have forgotten how to do anything else.

Re-issued after 19 more years of talking pictures, City Lights is more impressive than ever.* It is immensely funny, at times touching, and its storytelling is so eloquently visual that it makes most sound movies seem like the stunted products...