July 8, 2016
Review #820: Modern Times.
Charlie Chaplin (A Factory Worker), Paulette Goddard (Ellen Peterson, The Gamin), Henry Bergman (Café Proprietor), Tiny Sandford (Big Bill), Chester Conklin (A Mechanic), Al Ernest Garcia (President of the Electro Steel Corp), Stanley Blystone (Gamin's Father), and Richard Alexander (Prison Cellmate) Directed by Charlie Chaplin (#353 - Monsieur Verdoux, #599 - The Kid, #600 - City Lights, #759 - The Gold Rush, and #775 - Shoulder Arms)
This was the first movie Chaplin did with dialogue and sound effects, though it is only used prominently for scenes at the factory, with his character remaining silent, save for one song (sung entirely in gibberish) at the end of the film, with inter titles used throughout the movie, at a time when sound films had become the norm. The Little Tramp (the character that Chaplin played in a good deal of his films, though it wasn't usually listed as such in the credits) had a charm that Chaplin felt would be lost if the character ever spoke on screen. From this point on, his films would be in sound, sans the Tramp. As for this movie, Chaplin once again excels at his own brand of slapstick comedy, with the drama aspects (with regards to the time this was made) being balanced well enough to make for a really influential movie that still fits even 80 years later. Chaplin always managed to make his character an easy one to root for, while still being easy to have a laugh for the things he gets into, such as when he tries to keep up with an assembly line, with hilarious results. Watching him on screen is always a treat, and the supporting cast is excellent, with Chaplin and Goddard having good chemistry together; Garcia and Bergman (two regulars of Chaplin films) are also pretty good highlights. The themes of the movie (namely the rise of the industrialization in a modern world) are weaved in excellently, managing to be told alongside the comedy without any troubles. I can't tell which Chaplin film (of the six featured on Movie Night) is the best at this moment, but Modern Times is certainly another Chaplin film that is perfectly handled with a dynamic that he did excellently. The movie ends with an uncertain future for the two characters, but there is at least a gleam of hope, even in what seems to be the most hopeless of times.
Overall, I give it 10 out of 10 stars.