MODERN TIMES (1936) B/W 100m dir: Charles Chaplin
w/Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Chester Conklin, Stanley Sandford, Allan Garcia, Hank Mann
One of the all-time great films, a sensational one-man show by Chaplin: writing, directing, producing, scoring and starring in this eternal saga of Everyman in all times. The Tramp moves from factory worker to department store janitor to singing waiter as modern times knock him cruelly about.
From Georges Sadouls' Dictoionary of Films : "The film has a sound track but no dialogue, apart from a few words heard over radio or television.
"The theme is automation, the assembly line, unemployment and the world crisis --- in brief 'modern times' in the early Thirties. The most outstanding scene is that involving the feeding machine for which Charlie is both guinea pig and victim. An inventor persuades the boss he can make more money and gain time by installing a machine so the workers don't have to take a lunch hour. Charlie is told to try one and is strapped down while the machine feeds him automatically, wipes his mouth, etc. But something goes wrong --- he is fed steel nuts, soup is spilled down his shirt, corn is pushed up his nose and he is pelted with food. And the little man howls with pain and terror. Such was the world of the early Thirties, where an abundance of food and machinery existed alongside starvation and unemployment.
"The film cost one and a half million dollars and lost a half million dollars in the USA, where it was coldly received and even accused of 'Red propaganda' by some. It was banned in Germany and Italy but was very successful in Britain, France, USSR, and other countries.
"Based directly as it was on the world situation in the early Thirties, one might assume that it would later lose some of its forcefulness and sense of actuality. However, when it was re-released in the Fifties, a period of full employment and automation, it had lost none of its freshness. The passing years have only increased its power and affirmed its brilliant structure."