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CHAPLIN COLLECTION: MODERN TIMES: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
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 its humour.

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
LIMELIGHT
THE GREAT DICTATOR

THE KID
THE CIRCUS
CITY LIGHTS
MONSIEUR VERDOUX

BUY IT HERE

CHAPLIN COLLECTION: MODERN TIMES (G)
(US, 1936)

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







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