Catalina Island News

Chaplin's "City Lights" and Symphony Orchestra featured at Catalina Island Museum's Silent Film Benefit

Catalina Island Museum

Charlie Chaplin has been described as an unrivalled genius of the silent cinema, and as critic Roger Ebert once wrote: "If only one of Charles Chaplin's films could be preserved, City Lights would come the closest to representing all the different notes of his genius."

The Catalina Island Museum will present Chaplin’s acclaimed silent masterpiece during its 27th Silent Film Benefit, which will take place on Saturday, May 17th.  The film will be presented in the famed Avalon Casino Theater, one of the grandest movie palaces of the 1920s.  For the first time in the Silent Film Benefit’s history, the film will be accompanied by a live symphony orchestra. Grammy Award-winning conductor Richard Kaufman will conduct a 39-piece orchestra performing the original score composed by Charlie Chaplin himself.

City Lights is widely recognized as “the crowning achievement of silent comedy,” and the American Film Institute ranks the film as the 11th greatest American film of all time.  It is one of only a handful of films selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Although it was released nearly three years after talking pictures had taken over the box office, City Lights was enthusiastically received. It became Chaplin’s most financially successful and critically acclaimed work. The Los Angeles Times called it “the first non-dialogue film of importance to be produced since the advent of the talkies.”

Chaplin was especially fond of the final scene, which many claim is one of the most memorable moments in cinematic history.  Chaplin once stated that in “City Lights just the last scene… I’m not acting… Almost apologetic, standing outside myself and looking… It’s a beautiful scene, beautiful, and because it isn’t over-acted.”

Richard Kaufman is one of today’s leading conductors of symphonic film music.  He is Principal Pops Conductor of the Pacific Symphony, Pops Conductor Laureate of the Dallas Symphony and conductor of the Chicago Symphony’s “Friday Night at the Movies” series.  He has served as guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Tickets for this year’s Silent Film Benefit are on sale now! Tickets are $15 for members of the museum, $18 for general admission and $9 for those in period dress.  Arrive in your best 1920’s dress and receive a 50% discount on admission to the Silent Film Benefit! Prizes will be awarded to the best-dressed individual and couple.

Purchasing tickets is easy. Please call 310-510-2414, visit the museum in person, go to the Silent Film event page on or mail your payment to Catalina Island Museum, PO Box 366, Avalon, CA 90704 (Attn: Silent Film).

The Catalina Island Museum is Avalon’s sole institution devoted to art, culture and history.  The museum, its digital theater and store are located on the ground floor of Avalon’s historic Casino and are open 7 days a week, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, the museum may be reached by phone at 310-510-2414 or at its website.