Modern Times

Hanspostcard is hosting a movie draft from 12 different genres…this is my comedy entry.

This was/ the first feature length Chaplin movie I ever watched. It was his last “silent” movie. The year was 1936 and “talkies” had been around for almost a decade and certainly the most popular movie format in the 1930’s. Chaplin stubbornly decided to carry on with another silent movie and I’m glad he did.

Chaplin was a smart man…he knew the little tramp could not talk on screen…the character was over with if he did…finished. That was part of his mystic. Another reason was the beauty of silent film at the time. He had perfected the art and talkies were full of clumsy lines delivered with immobile cameras and primitive microphones. They were improving but when silent movies ended…an art was lost forever.

Other actors at the time didn’t have the power or clout to try this but it worked brilliantly for Chaplin.  It was one of the top-grossing films of 1936. This after being told no one would want to see a silent movie in 1936…Charlie was once again right.

Chaplin did like the fact that he could insert sound effects into the movie with the technology. He wrote, directed, acted,  produced and also wrote the music for this movie. Modern Times has Chaplin’s finest music score. His most recognizable and commercially viable song, “Smile,” emerged from a melody used by him in this movie.

The film is very relevant today. Charlie takes on the machine age as humans are treated like cattle. Chaplin takes a swipe at  capitalism , industrialization and human exploitation.

The little tramp is finding it difficult to survive in the modern mechanized world. Failing as a worker on a factory assembly line, he gets into a series of adventures and misadventures, which leads him meeting a young recently orphaned “gamine” who ran away rather than end up in an orphanage. They try to survive in the world together, both on the run from the law, although his previous stints behind bars… were to him more appealing than life outside in the cold modern world.

The question becomes… can Charlie and the gamine individually or together  find their place in the modern world with all the odds against them?

Some famous scenes are in this movie. Chaplin in the automatic feeding machine, Chaplin and his boss in the gears of the machinery, and Chaplin going insane trying to tighten bolts on every thing.

It is a great film to start watching Chaplin if you haven’t seen any of his previous movies. One of the many remarkable things about Charlie Chaplin is that his films continue to hold up, to attract, and entertain audiences…you will enjoy this one!

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

23 thoughts on “Modern Times”

      1. She could say more with her eyes than anyone. She is my number 1 actress…Drew Barrymore is right behind her

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  1. You’ve seen how many silent movies I’ve covered on my site. Though I’m not a silent film lover for the entertainment (there are some I like), I am fascinated with how film started. I loved digging around and reading/learning how these things were made. Edison’s Black Maria Studio, William Friese-Greene, kinetoscope cameras, William Dickson, Auguste & Louis Lumiere… It is a crying shame how 80% of these things are considered “lost.”

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    1. Well you have covered many that are not even here any more. Now I’ve seen a lot of them though. Mostly Buster Keatons, Clara Bows, Chaplin, and some Douglas Fairbanks Sr….and just a few of Mary Pickfords.

      I know it’s a shame. What people don’t get is…they looked beautiful when they were made…pristine…perfect. They were not moving real fast or anything like that…they had it down to a science.

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      1. Yes you pick some hard ones Vic…those are hard to find. I’ve watched some like Wings, Sunrise, Face in the Crowd etc…
        Those are more common ones I know…There is one I REALLY want to see…Red Hair by Clara Bow…it’s missing…it has some color film of her

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    1. That sums him up perfectly Pam. I like how instinctively he knew the Tramp could not talk…and once he did he was dead. Other artists would have milked the tramp dry.

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  2. I think what made this film so successful and ultimately beloved, despite being a silent film in 1936, was a combination of its brilliant cinematography, visual and sound effects. great acting, a topical subject matter, and an engaging soundtrack. Paulette Goddard was also a quite popular actress by then, so having her in the film certainly helped. Nice choice and write-up Max.

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    1. Thanks Jeff. I’ve always been a Goddard fan also. There is an art about those silent films. They went out on top when they really perfected them. Buster Keaton was Chaplin’s only equal to me…not character wise because no one can beat the Tramp but in filmmaking.

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  3. Dropped a comment over on Han’s site. I think this is a film that most folks should bracket the time to watch. Ive seen it various times. I took my Mom to se it at a reparatory theater in the 70’s. There was like 6 people in the house. Big theater and a guy with an afro came and sat right in front of my Ma. Not kidding. Now that was funny (Not at the time)

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    1. LOL…a great story but not at the time. Unbelievable…
      I am glad Chaplin carried on with silent films a little longer…he had mastered the art.

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      1. The guy did move when I pointed out the situation. He was more than a little stoned.
        I always forget about the year he released this and against the grain. CC is a film guy I return to often. Have you seen ‘Countess Of Hong Kong”? You wouldn’t know Charlie was involved.

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      2. Well that is cool that he moved.

        No I haen’t seen that movie. I’ve seen everything else he has released but that one…I’ve wanted to see it for Marlon Brando also. He was working up a film in the last years of his life…I’ll have to watch it. I think Charlie appears quickly in it.

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