Release year: 1936
Director: Charles Chaplin
Screenwriter: Charles Chaplin
Starring: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman, Tiny Stanford, Chester Conklin, Edward LeSaint, Allan Garcia
Sunday Classic #282, week 46 2019
The Tramp (Chaplin) struggles to live in modern industrial society but is constantly struck by bad luck. But he never lets things put him down and his good nature brings him in the company of a young homeless woman (Goddard).
There is something thrilling about watching a comedy from the 1930s and discover it has you laughing just as much or even more than a contemporary comedy. Chaplin (The Kid, 1921) definitely knew something about slapstick and physical comedy and also had an expressive face perfect for the silent era. He tells so much with his body language that you don’t find yourself missing the spoken word, either way, you are too busy laughing. A definite high point is the feeding machine, and most will nod in recognition to pictures of Chaplin trapped inside a machine between cogwheels while the scene where he struggles to keep up with the assembly line has become a classic which later inspired several comedy routines. Though the story is obviously there to lead Chaplin from one sketch to another, the frustration with the modern industrial society is the red thread that keeps it all together and the struggle for the Tramp and the homeless girl to make a life together is a proper story. It is amazing watching how the worry of industrialization and its impact on humanity was present already in 1936, as the theme of the movie is as relevant today and the jokes are without any doubt still funny. A true comic classic and highly recommended.
Modern Times is the first movie where we hear the voice of Charlie Chaplin as he performs Léo Daniderff’s ‘Je cherche après Titine’. Only he sings it in gibberish, leaving the version known as ‘The Nonsense Song’.
The movie is the last Charles Chaplin appeared in as the Tramp.
Charles Chaplin wrote the score himself. The main theme later had lyrics added (in 1954) by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons and became the Nat King Cole hit ‘Smile’.
Picture copyrights: Warner Home Video