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Modern Times
Drama, Romance, Comedy
IMDB rating:
Charles Chaplin
Paulette Goddard as A Gamin
Henry Bergman as Cafe Proprietor
Tiny Sandford as Big Bill
Hank Mann as Burglar
Stanley Blystone as Gamin's Father
Al Ernest Garcia as President of the Electro Steel Corp.
Richard Alexander as Prison Cellmate (as Dick Alexander)
Cecil Reynolds as Minister
Mira McKinney as Minister's Wife (as Myra McKinney)
Murdock MacQuarrie as J. Widdecombe Billows
Wilfred Lucas as Juvenile Officer
Edward LeSaint as Sheriff Couler
Storyline: Chaplins last 'silent' film, filled with sound effects, was made when everyone else was making talkies. Charlie turns against modern society, the machine age, (The use of sound in films ?) and progress. Firstly we see him frantically trying to keep up with a production line, tightening bolts. He is selected for an experiment with an automatic feeding machine, but various mishaps leads his boss to believe he has gone mad, and Charlie is sent to a mental hospital... When he gets out, he is mistaken for a communist while waving a red flag, sent to jail, foils a jailbreak, and is let out again. We follow Charlie through many more escapades before the film is out.
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DVD-rip 544x400 px 698 Mb mpeg4 1172 Kbps avi Download
This very well written story never lets down from the very first image we see, flocking sheep compared with rushing urban human crowds, to the very ending. Excellent criticism of the Taylorism/capitalistic through humor relevant for any age, nationality or time; story-telling that would touch anyone alike in a universal fashion, every now and then sparkled with Chaplin's unique and deeply influential sense of humor and on-screen comedy. Hilarious in moments, and unique. A man of many talents clearly, and excellent at those. Overall this depicts quite a zany approach to life, one that is pure in essence and profoundly antagonistic with the current ways of the time, and ways of today still: a life dominated by one-track thinking, rigid and stubborn social etiquette, and the enslavement this new world has brought in so many aspects to the human species. Finally, it highlights the importance of never giving up; EVER; and the preciousness of love.
My favorite Movie
Modern Times is the best of all Chaplin's movies. The others being City Lights, Great Dictator, Circus, Goldrush and Pawnshop. Modern Times is a special movie. Genius written all over in it. When Chaplin is doing comedy, I cannot laugh, rather there was an air of amazement at his mesmerizing performance, a thing of greatness not witnessed ever before. Modern Times had many exceptional scenes and my favorites include: The climax dance and the events prior to it where he plays rugby with that roast duck, relieving the ship from the dock, blindfolding himself and skating in a danger zone, The dream scene with Paulette in which he had grapes and apples grown inside his home and a cow that milks himself and, the test he undergoes with the food-machine.

Rollie Totheroh's photography is masterful. The movie is my all time favorite and whenever I was not feeling well I'll run it in my DVD.
Solid comedy with great story and drama
Greetings from Lithuania.

"Modern Times" (1936) is my first movie which i saw that features Charles Chaplin. Saw it first time in 2015, but nevertheless it's a great movie. Comedy here is truly funny, and it's not just a comedy. It tells a story, with some underlying themes that are still kinda topical till this day – technology is changing, evolving, and if you are not keeping pace with it, you will have some hard times like our hero of this movie.

Acting here is very solid, actually i was surprised of how well acted this movie was – no one overreacted. Story itself is interesting and movie is very well paced – at running time 1 h 27 min it almost never drags and is entertaining from start till finish.

Overall, "Modern Times" is a black and white silent movie (there are some sounds actually) which safely can be viewed for the first time even in 2015 – 79 years after it's original release. It has some truly genuine comedic situations, it tells good story and pacing of picture is very solid. Maybe it is not possible to review this movie correctly now because it's very old, but great movies are great movies – they can be viewed no matter what.
The Lady and the Tramp
MODERN TIMES (United Artists, 1936), was written, produced, scored, directed, and stars Charlie Chaplin in what was to become his final role as the Little Tramp. It also marked the close to the silent screen era. In fact, MODERN TIMES, though not essentially a silent film in a sense, but more like some made between 1927-29 equipped with underscoring, sound effects and talking sequences. While silent movies officially ended by 1929, Chaplin kept that genre going with CITY LIGHTS (1931) and MODERN TIMES, demonstrating that silents is still golden. Chaplin, having come a long way from London music halls to American silent comedies dating back to 1914, not only developed his character but established the greatness in his work. Reportedly in production for two years, possibly more, Chaplin's ability to perfect comedy routines into a simple story like MODERN TIMES is amazing. Supporting Chaplin is Paulette Goddard, an movie extra since 1929, now awarded the opportunity in a major role opposite the comedy legend. Unlike Chaplin's other leading ladies of the past, Goddard is reportedly the only one to become successful, especially during the 1940s following her second pairing in Chaplin's first talkie as THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940).

The opening credits super imposed in front of a clock, indicates time as now, while its opening title that reads, "Modern Times is a story of industry - of individual enterprise - of humanity crusading in pursuit of happiness" indicates something else, a satire of the machine age, past, present and future, while in fact being one story with two related themes. The first revolves around two people of different backgrounds facing uncertainties with their present lives while the second half turns into a love story between these two same people who have fallen through hard times of the Depression. Before their devotion to one another occurs, their introduction begins with Charlie (Charlie Chaplin), a factory worker of the Electro Steel Corporation where he tightens bolts on moving belts. Unable to adjust to the advanced technology as a tester to a a new type of feeding machine, he acquires a nervous breakdown that has him committed to an asylum for a rest cure. Next introduction is on the Gamin (Paulette Goddard), a waterfront girl whose unemployed father (Stanley Blystone) is killed in a riot, leaving her two younger sisters to be sent to an orphanage while, after escaping from the juvenile officers, struggles to survive in the outside world. Caught stealing a loaf of bread by the law, Charlie, who has since been released from the hospital and struggling himself to find work, comes to her defense admitting he stole it. The lady and the tramp meet again in the patrol wagon that soon breaks down in an accident, leaving these two strangers to make their escape together into the world of uncertainty. Their uncertainty finally turns to hope when a cabaret owner (Henry Bergman) hires the girl to work as a dancer while Charlie is employed as a singing waiter. All's well until the juvenile division track down the girl to have her arrested.

For one of Chaplin's most admired films, there's no spoken dialog, at least from Chaplin's standpoint. Talking sequences comes from the factory president (Allan Garcia), who, at one point, yells at Charlie to "get back to work." Other sounds include a radio announcer's voice, police sirens, a barking dog and stomach churning. Chaplin, who preferred to keep his tramp character silent, did offer audiences the opportunity to hear his voice for the first time, in song, for the cabaret sequence, doing some double-talk rendition to "Titina."  

While MODERN TIMES has become relatively known throughout the years, it was rarely revived until Chaplin's reissued it some time prior to his death in 1977. Having attended the 1980 theatrical revival of MODERN TIMES at the Regency Theater in New York City where it played to a full house, I witnessed patrons, young and old alike, laughing hysterically and watching with amazement at many key scenes being the feeding machine sequence; Charlie roller skating around the department store blindfolded; and his method of feeding lunch to his employer (Chester Conklin) while stuck inside the machine's safety wheels. Considering MODERN TIMES to be not quite so modern by today's standards, it demonstrates how comedy never grows out of style.

Acquiring less pathos than CITY LIGHTS, MODERN TIMES is most memorable in the way it bids goodbye to Chaplin's world of silent movie making through its underscoring to the sentimental "Smile (Though Your Heart is Breaking"). MODERN TIMES, along with other Chaplin features and short subjects, were distributed on CBS Home Video in 1989 to commemorate Chaplin's centennial year of his birth. Though frequent revivals on various cable channels, ranging from Turner Network Television (1989), American Movie Classics (1991-2001), and Turner Classic Movies (as part of "The Essentials") assures how this and many other Chaplin films are to remain in view as long as there are those around to appreciate his art and style the way he originally intended it to be, through laughter and a little tear, especially during these modern times. (****)
Chaplin at his best...Paulette Goddard delightful...
MODERN TIMES is at its best when Chaplin is doing the sort of physical comedy that is his greatest skill. The factory scenes and the skating scene in the department store are just two of the highlights--but all the way through he combines his physical dexterity with warmth as the Tramp struggles to survive in a world gone mad with new technology.

And his partner in this happy excursion is PAULETTE GODDARD, a striking young beauty who a few years later almost won the role of Scarlett O'Hara in GWTW.

The print TCM is showing is flawless and there is pure delight in watching Chaplin and Goddard romp through a series of vignettes that come together to produce a well-paced story where no dialogue is needed to tell the simple tale. Keeping the running time down to an hour and a half is an asset here--especially in an age where most major comedies are often told in two hours or more.

Chaplin's background music is a good counterpoint to the visuals, although one wishes that one of his themes for the scenes where he cheers up the gamin (and later recorded as a hit song called "Smile"), had been given a more lavish treatment.

Trivia note: GLORIA de HAVEN can be seen as Paulette Goddard's young sister. You have to look closely to spot her since she appears to be only 12 or 13 in the role.

Farewell to the Tramp
At a time when the art of filmmaking was rapidly churning toward the future, Chaplin was still fighting a one-man battle in favor of silent films. Famously he didn't think much of talking pictures and predicted that they would die out in five years. So, he gleefully pressed on, working his magic in, what was perceived, as a dead art form. Chaplin's contemporaries thought he was behind the times and he continued to fight a battle by keeping his films silent even though he didn't make many in the sound era. As punishment, his last two silent films, City Lights and Modern Times, did not receive one single nomination.

Neither of the two silent films that he made after The Jazz Singer were totally silent, they incorporated sound effects and a line or two of dialogue, but both used sound as a means of being critical of the process. First was City Lights which opened with a political speech in which the audience only heard squawks coming from the speaker's mouths. The other was Modern Times, a red-blooded assault on madness of the machine age.

Modern Times wasn't his best film but it was certainly better than anything else released in 1936. It was one of his most important films mainly because it was his transition from silent to sound. Here he satirizes the process but there is a tone that suggests that he's ready to move on. It is the most technologically innovative of his works yet it remains silent. The only noises come from machines and the only voices are heard over a radio, a monitor and a phonograph. The message is that Chaplin will move into the sound age, but that doesn't mean he will give it any respect. The reason that the film is important is because it displays his best gifts for satire. His other films had satire but it bubbled under the surface – this film is more of a full-frontal assault. He exposes the madness of over-dependence on machines, the economic crisis, communist paranoia and man's never-ending pursuit food, glorious food.

Most importantly, perhaps most famously, this is the film in which Chaplin bids farewell to The Tramp. There was some discussion of the possibility of giving the Tramp a speaking voice but Chaplin wouldn't hear of it. When the studio insisted on it, he created a moment in which the Tramp sings a song, an odd tune called "Titania," sung in gibberish.

Five years after City Lights, Chaplin uses The Tramp to show how the society has changed, how it has grown past his gentle nature and threatens to crush his fragile spirit. In the blistering maelstrom of The Great Depression (this was 1936) we find that The Tramp has had to join the work force, working ten hour days at a steel factory turning the bolts on a grotesque machine that frequently breaks down and constantly speeds up. As he turns the bolts on the conveyor belt, he has to catch up if he misses one. The machine finally swallows him, and The Tramp finds himself bending inside the machine's cogs, but he's so loopy that he doesn't even notice.

Although the film finds The Tramp working it also underpins the same theme that Chaplin has always worked with, survival. After going insane, The Tramp is sent to a mental institution and after having been cured, the rest of the film chronicles his desperate search for work. At the docks he meets a gamine (Paulette Goddard), a plucky girl stealing bananas for her brothers and sisters. Food becomes a dominating goal for these two and one of the central themes of the picture: The gamin steals bananas and later bread; The Tramp is nearly killed by an automatic feeding machine that short circuits; The couple have cake in a department store where he works as the night watchman; He eats a very large meal that he can't pay for in order to get thrown in jail where he will have decent food and a roof over his head; Later when he gets his job back at the factory he stops to have lunch even though his supervisor is stuck inside the machine; And he fantasizes about his dream house and coming home to the wife . . . at dinnertime.

The world of Modern Times is not that far removed from Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Both films present a world besieged by the chaos of its own technology and both present the kinds of oppression that Orwell would brought to "1984". The inside world is a crush of machines and noise, the outside world is awash in riots, strikes and marches. The Tramp, as always finds himself caught in the middle of one damn thing after another. The message is that things are tough all over, but as The Tramp confides in the gamin to keep chin up and spirits high because if you keep trying eventually, it will all work out.

Most of the Tramp's efforts come to nothing, just when he has something it blows away in the wind and he finds that he has to start all over again. This has been the theme of the Tramp all along and, given his determination, we know that he will never give up.

It's fitting that Chaplin's Tramp bows out in Modern Times, one more film and I think he would have become dated. The world has moved past him, it's grown too large and too fast for his gentle spirit to maintain. In the end we find him still searching for his dream, the difference is that in the end when he walks into the sunrise of a new day he doesn't go alone. With that, we know he'll be okay.

**** (of four)
See That Little Man Over There? Remember When No One Was Better?
Charles Chaplin seemingly had been pushed out of the movie business by the early-1930s due to the advent of sound (a medium that just never seemed right with him). Chaplin, probably the best film-maker/performer of the 20th Century, did not despair though. He fought back with heart and emotion and by 1936 "Modern Times" was a major box office and critical success. It is a movie that quietly showed a man suffering through a world of change. As a factory worker in the film, Chaplin tries to cope with the industrial revolution and tries to make it through a quickly changing U.S. economy. He finds love with vagrant Paulette Goddard (who ended up marrying Chaplin in real life) and the two come together and lean on one another in a world of uncertainty and change. "Modern Times" is one of those films that will put a smile on your face, but it could make you weep just as easily. Chaplin's world was changing (and not necessarily for the better from his point of view) and he wanted to express the variations in his old way of doing things and the new way everyone else had accepted. Goddard is also probably the best actress to match Chaplin's charm in one of his pictures. Their love for one another (even though the marriage lasted a relatively short amount of time in real life) just seems to shine on the silver screen and they have a chemistry that is sweet and heart-warming. Beautifully made, wonderfully written, perfectly performed, smart, insightful and always brilliant, "Modern Times" is another film from Chaplin that will brand itself on the souls of all true lovers of the cinema. 5 stars out of 5.
These are but a few delightful features of the Billows Feeding Machine…Modern Times
Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times is a wonderful little film. It is in effect a series of shorts strung together and connected by the two leads, Chaplin's tramp and Paulette Goddard's gamin. The tale is about how the machine age has taken over industry, throwing men on the streets with no jobs or money to keep their families afloat. In a brilliant stroke of ingenuity, Chaplin decides to scrap the idea of making this a "talkie" and allows only machines to have a voice. For instance, if the boss needs to bark orders, he does so through a TV screen and if Mr. Billows needs to explain how his feeding machine works, he plays a record containing his full speech. The sound effects are great and the visuals stunning, especially while at the factory. What its essentially a silent film at its core, Modern Times is so much more. A commentary on technology and the dream of making a home for the ones you love, it is also a very sharp comedy that will have you laughing throughout with its physical gags.

During the course of his travels, Chaplin's tramp gets mixed up in some impressive set-piece jokes. From the assembly line shenanigans, to the giant gear trappings, to the feeding machine, inadvertently leading a Communist march, a couple stints in jail, a department store disaster, a dilapidated house, and the struggles of waiting tables, he always finds a way to get out of trouble. With all these things happening, the film can appear a tad disjointed, but as his character continues to evolve and the title-cards give us elapsed time, it still holds together as a complete story. A king of physical laughs, Chaplin never holds back either. His nervous breakdown at the plant shows his dedication to the comedy by being unable to shake the arm motion of his job even when he is outdoors and, of course, the rollerskating stunt later on is impressive. I'd be interested to see how that was shot, either composed post-filming to add the drop, or if he really was that close to the edge.

You can't deny the man's gift as an artist. How each vignette plays out is inventive and humorous on its journey. Even the moments with the beautiful Goddard are funny in their own right. Her manic facial expressions and piratelike mannerisms while stealing bananas on the docks during her introduction bring some good laughs. Her character is used pretty much as a straightman to Chaplin's lunatic, but she plays the part well. The dream sequence of the two living in a nice house with fruit hanging at every window is priceless and the final scene at the restaurant is a riot. With her trying to help him out in getting a steady job and him mucking it all up to end up needing to sing in gibberish, it is the best part of the movie.

While I feel people of all ages can appreciate the film on its own merits—the comedy is broad and kids will enjoy the stunts and bodily harm stuff—it does contain some adult situations. Besides the Communist march mentioned previously, there is a short scene with Chaplin drunk along with a more lengthy part with him after imbibing some "nose powder." It is never actually labeled as being drugs and the scene could be effective still without knowing what the powder is, so one should not use it as the sole reason to not show it to children. Modern Times is a classic on many levels and has proved so by standing the test of time for seventy years thus far.
My favorite Chaplin...
As my title states, this is my favorite Chaplin film. Not that I have a ton to draw from, but still the one I've enjoyed the most.

Watching him dance was quite a treat. He can sing, too. Very talented guy, this Chaplin.

If you are curious about his films, start here. It's no surprise that this is his highest rated film on this site.
The hands of the cinema clock were set back five years last night when a funny little man with a microscopic mustache, a battered derby hat, turned up shoes and a flexible bamboo cane returned to the Broadway screen to resume his place in the affections of the film-going public. The little man—it scarcely needs be said—is Charlie Chaplin, whose "Modern Times," opening at the Rivoli, restores him to a following that has waited patiently, burning incense in his temple of comedy, during the long years since his last picture was produced.

That was five years ago almost to the day. "City Lights" was its name and in it Mr. Chaplin refused to talk. He still refuses. But in "Modern Times" he has raised the ban against dialogue for other members of the cast, raised it, but not completely. A few sentences here and there, excused because they come by television, phonograph, the radio. And once—just once—Mr. Chaplin permits himself to be heard.

Those are the answers to the practical questions. They do not tell of Mr. Chaplin's picture, or of Chaplin himself, or of the comic feast that he has been preparing for almost two years in the guarded cloister in Hollywood known as the Chaplin studio.

But there is no cause for alarm and no reason to delay the verdict further: "Modern Times" has still the same old Charlie, the lovable little fellow whose hands and feet eyebrows can beat an irresistible tattoo upon an audience's or hold it still, taut beneath the spell of human tragedy. A flick of his cane, a quirk of a brow, an impish lift of his toe and the mood is off; a droop of his mouth, a sag of his shoulder, a quick blink of his eye and you are his again, a companion in suffering. Or do you have to be reminded that Chaplin is a master of pantomime? Time has not changed his genius.
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