Georgia Hale’s screen test for CITY LIGHTS, November 1929

My edit from the original which can be found on the Warner/MK2 edition of City Lights.
Music: “Reunited” from City Lights: New Recording of the Original 1931 Score, cond. by Carl Davis.

Almost a year into the production of the City Lights, Chaplin fired his leading lady, Virginia Cherrill, for lateness and planned to replace her with Georgia Hale, who was his co-star in The Gold Rush, as well as his constant companion at the time.

That night we went to the Double Eagle Restaurant and he said, “I’m going to redo “City Lights” with you, just the way I did ‘The Gold Rush.'” And I was overjoyed because I loved that story and I knew I could have done the part so well.

The following day I donned the clothes of the blind girl. Charlie and I shot many scenes together…When it was over, Charlie almost crying saying, “This is what I’ve been trying to get for weeks.” He grabbled me and embraced me. He said, “The part is yours. I’ll reshoot the entire picture with you as the blind girl.”

Chaplin soon realized it was going to be far too costly to reshoot everything with Georgia as the blind girl, so he rehired Cherrill.

Out of the clear sky he comes back to me and calls me over to the studio and tells me off in the most vicious manner that I’m not going to do “City Lights” and to get it out of my mind that it was all a mistake. I just cried and cried because I couldn’t understand. Then a week or two passes and he calls me again and apologizes. He said his publicity man (Carlyle Robinson) had come to him and poisoned his mind against me. He told him that I was going to sue him if I didn’t play that part and he believed him–and he says, “How I ever believed it I’ll never know.” And then he just simply got down on his knees and asked for forgiveness.*

*Interview with Georgia from Unknown Chaplin & Charlie Chaplin: Intimate Close-ups by Georgia Hale


  1. Maybe it's me, but I have seen this before (and watched again via your link)and thought she was terrible. I know Chaplin disliked Virginia Cherrill and complained heartily about her "poor" acting skills, however, I always thought she brought delicacy and honesty to that part. Georgia Hale was lovely looking, and charming in "The Gold Rush", but this part did not suit her.

  2. Personally I don't think Cherrill was that bad of an actress. She fooled me into thinking that her and Charlie had chemistry and loved each other when in reality they were not friendly with one another at all.

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