Modern Times (1936)



Critic Consensus: A slapstick skewering of industrialized America, Modern Times is as politically incisive as it is laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Movie Info

This episodic satire of the Machine Age is considered Charles Chaplin's last "silent" film, although Chaplin uses sound, vocal, and musical effects throughout. Chaplin stars as an assembly-line worker driven insane by the monotony of his job. After a long spell in an asylum, he searches for work, only to be mistakenly arrested as a Red agitator. Released after foiling a prison break, Chaplin makes the acquaintance of orphaned gamine (Paulette Goddard) and becomes her friend and protector. He … More

Rating: G
Genre: Classics, Comedy
Directed By: ,
Written By: Charlie Chaplin, Charles Chaplin
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 23, 2010
United Artists - Official Site



as The Gamin

as Cafe Owner

as A Worker, Worker

as Burglar

as Sheriff Couler

as Company Boss

as Foreman

as Prison Chaplain

as Woman with Buttoned ...

as Worker

as Chaplain's Wife

as Gamin's Sister

as Prison Governor

as Convict

as Sheriff Conlon

as Convict

as J. Widdecombe Billow...

as Juvenile Officer

as Cafe Head Waiter

as Billows' Assistant

as Assembly Worker

as Shipbuilder
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Modern Times

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (14)

It is a gay, impudent and sentimental pantomimic comedy in which even the anachronisms are often as becoming as Charlie Chaplin's cane.

Full Review… | April 27, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

One of the many remarkable things about Charlie Chaplin is that his films continue to hold up, to attract and delight audiences.

Full Review… | April 1, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

The picture is grand fun and sound entertainment, though silent. It's the old Chaplin at his best, looking at his best -- young, pathetic and a very funny guy.

Full Review… | June 26, 2007
Top Critic

It's the coldest of [Chaplin's] major features, though no less brilliant for it.

Full Review… | June 26, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The opening sequence in Chaplin's second Depression masterpiece, of the Tramp on the assembly line, is possibly his greatest slapstick encounter with the 20th century.

Full Review… | June 26, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Chaplin's political and philosophical naivety now seems as remarkable as his gift for pantomime.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Modern Times

A classic, influential movie concerning the legendary "Tramp" character (Charlie Chaplin) and how he struggles to keep up in a modern day world of advances in the work force, which sadly makes going to jail seem like an appealing option. Despite mostly being a farce, this treasure of a film has a ton to say about society, and gives some different, touching looks on a few characters who are doing their best to make it in this world despite being at disadvantages financially and not having a real set of skills. The factory scenes with Chaplin are priceless, but it is the creatively constructed and moving finale that makes this film so special. This is an absolutely timeless comedy featuring one of the most iconic characters in all of film.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer


A factory worker and his homeless love struggle to fulfill the "American Dream" despite the advances of "progress."
This is how satire is done. Clear in its images -- The Tramp literally caught in the machinery -- and exact in what it's criticizing -- the Big Brother factory boss and the criminalization of the economically disenfranchised -- Modern Times is one of Chaplin's most precise and incisive comedies. In this film, The Tramp becomes more than an extension of vaudeville; he stands in for the poor everyman, and as a result Chaplin's work takes on a profundity and significance unique to him.
The filmmaking, or the direction, is quite strong. While this was supposed to be Chaplin's first talkie, it works better in the genre Super Reviewer Alice Shen calls a "neo-silent film" (she coins this phrase in reference to The Artist). Chaplin's use of sound occurs at strategic moments in the narrative: the corporate boss can speak as he has entered the mechanized age, but The Tramp stays mostly silent, only once singing in gibberish. Chaplin sets up the conflict between the ways of the past and the future in the film's technique as well as its theme.
I did think that the film occasionally fell into slapstick and schtick, abandoning its central concerns, but these moments were rare in the grand scheme of the film.
Overall, Modern Times ranks among Limelight and The Great Dictator as one of Chaplin's finest films.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

An immovable benchmark in satire, comedy and global filmmaking.

Louis Rogers
Louis Rogers

Super Reviewer

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