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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Modern Times (1936) d. Charlie Chaplin

Modern Times Charlie Chaplin


Movie Review
Modern Times (1936)
 d. Charlie Chaplin
Criterion Collection #543

  Modern Times was the last appearance of the Little Tramp, the character Chaplin rode to everlasting fame.  By 1936 sound had been a part of cinema for a decade, and while Chaplin made use of sound in the form of music and sound effects, Modern Times was the last film in which Chaplin didn't speak dialogue (he does, however, sing near the end of the film.)

  Modern Times is like four separate shorts strung together and given a feature-type heft by virtue of his relationship with Paulette Goddard, playing the role of "a gamine."  Most people associate the first segment of the film which takes place in a factory where Chaplin works tightening a pair of bolts on an assembly line.  After the famous scene where he gets sucked into the interior of gear intensive piece of machinery, he gets fired, caught up in a street rally and mistaken for a Communist leader.  

  The Tramp is imprisoned, but released after getting a pardon for preventing a jail break.  He gets out, meets Goddard- literally shoe less so gamine is she.  Goddard is the original manic pixie dream girl, and the first female lead who would match Chaplin's intensely physical performances.

   Modern Times was the first movie where Chaplin's socialist/communist ideology was visible. He would follow with The Great Dictator and follow that with being hounded from America by anti-Communist crusaders.  Another proud moment in American history there.  Chaplin continued to make movies- good movies- for decades, but his critical/popular zenith was reached in this film.  It would only be in later decades that his reputation would be restored and amplified.

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