CHAPLIN COLLECTION: MODERN TIMES: DVD
Chaplin’s last silent film, in which a frustrated factory worker tires of his
tyrannical boss, ends up unemployed, gets arrested and jailed, comes out and meets a girl,
continues to look for work and gets into several adventures.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Several scenes have become signature moments in the Chaplin body of work, including his
factory worker on the assembly line dragged into the machinery. The episodic nature of the
film is driven by short stories linked by the unemployment theme, but other elements are
embraced as Chaplin unwinds his imagination. Made in the mid 30s, the film blends
depression era settings with how communism was perceived, and with the eternal Chaplin
theme of an underdog battling and half-winning his way in an unfair world.
The beautiful Paulette Goddard plays the homeless elder sister to a trio of girls
eventually orphaned, and injects a romantic element which is part and parcel of this
lighthearted comedy – which still touches a few socio-political nerves. The modern
industrial age was even overtaking Chaplin, as he created this, his last silent film.
Silent, but not soundless: he not only composed the score, but used voices and songs. The
scene in the café where he is hired as a singing waiter, for example, relies on sound for
And as the tramp walks off into the sunset with his girl, ever hopeful of a better future,
it is to the strains of his classic tune, Smile.
Which is what you will wear if you slip in Disc two and put on hold the Liberace version
of Smile recorded in 1956, go past the 26 minute Chaplin Today documentary by Philippe
Truffaut, zip past the 6 minute introduction by David Robinson, skip the deleted scenes,
ignore the 42 minute US Government educational film from 1931 (In the Age of the
Machines), forget the 9 minute Ford-sponsored musical/promotional film, and even delay
catching the 10 minute 1967 Cuban documentary on peasants whose first film experience was
Modern Times thanks to a travelling picture show man.
No, go straight to the 3 minute karaoke feature. This takes the scene in the café where
Charlie has to sing a song as part of his duties as a multiskilled waiter, but he
doesn’t know the words and his cue sheet (cuffs) fly off. So he has to improvise the
words, which are nonsense. But here, those nonsense words (like: LA SPINASH O LA BOUCHON,
CIGARETTO PORTABELLO…) have been captured and are relayed on screen a la karaoke
style and I promise you it’s the best thing on this disc. Just make sure you’ve
got the space to not only sing along but make the moves!
And now, go on back to Liberace’s 1956 Smile….
Published December 4, 2003
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THE CHAPLIN COLLECTION:
THE GOLD RUSH
THE GREAT DICTATOR
BUY IT HERE
CHAPLIN COLLECTION: MODERN TIMES (G)
CAST: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard
DIRECTOR: Charlie Chaplin
SCRIPT: Charlie Chaplin
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
PRESENTATION: B/W; 1.33:1 (4:3 full frame transfer); DD 5.1 (remastered)
SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc One: Modern Times (digitally remastered and restored) Disc Two: Introduction by David Robinson; Chaplin Today; deleted scenes; nonsense song; nonsense song with karaoke; In the Machine Age (US Govt educational film, 1931); Ford-sponsored promotional musical short; Cuban documentary on peasants first movie experience with Modern Times; photo gallery; trailers; posters; production notes
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros HV
DVD RELEASE: December 3, 2003