Modern Times 1936

Modern Times

Critics Consensus

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

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 61

95%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 40,234

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Movie Info

This comedic masterpiece finds the iconic Little Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) employed at a state-of-the-art factory where the inescapable machinery completely overwhelms him, and where various mishaps keep getting him sent to prison. In between his various jail stints, he meets and befriends an orphan girl (Paulette Goddard). Both together and apart, they try to contend with the difficulties of modern life, with the Tramp working as a waiter and eventually a performer.

Cast & Crew

Charlie Chaplin
A Factory Worker
Henry Bergman
Care Proprietor
Hank Mann
Burglar
Stanley Blystone
Gamin's Father
Ira H. Morgan
Cinematographer
Roland Totheroh
Cinematographer
Alfred Reeves
Production Manager
Jack Wilson
Production Manager
Carter DeHaven
Assistant Director
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News & Interviews for Modern Times

Critic Reviews for Modern Times

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (61)

Audience Reviews for Modern Times

  • Nov 02, 2018
    The final scene in â~Modern Timesâ(TM) is stunning, and in many ways. There is a message of hope amidst the poverty of the Depression, with Chaplinâ(TM)s responding to Goddard feeling overwhelmed and defeated by saying âBuck up - never say die. We'll get along!â? (and lip-reading after that, perhaps âSmile, Câ(TM)mon!â?). We then see his signature move, walking off down the road, but this time he isnâ(TM)t alone, he has Goddard with him, which could be viewed as overcoming through love and togetherness, or perhaps Chaplinâ(TM)s real-life marriage to her. The most tingly interpretation for me, however, is as a symbol of end of the silent era. Chaplin retired his the character of the Tramp with this film, and while he uses sound in some very creative ways, itâ(TM)s mostly silent. Long after almost all other movies had become talkies, when I see this iconic character walking off down the road, I really feel like itâ(TM)s a final good-bye to an era, which gives me goosebumps. Chaplin is also absolutely brilliant in the filmâ(TM)s very impressive opening scene. Heâ(TM)s an assembly line worker who tightens bolts to some non-descript part as they rapidly stream by, having to work very hard to keep up. He and his fellow workers have been made into machines, watched over with technology ahead of its time, with his boss able to see and talk to him via giant monitors, including one in the washroom. In a hilarious scene, his boss uses him as the guinea pig for a new device meant to improve efficiency â" an automated feeding machine. Chaplin is strapped in and must endure the machine going haywire through various courses of a meal. Itâ(TM)s one of the funniest sequences Iâ(TM)ve ever seen. The film seems like it may be heading for a critique of automation, with Chaplin dehumanized, humiliated, suffering from repetitive motion, and breaking down, but it expands in to more than that. Through the character of a gamin (Paulette Goddard), we see the poverty of the times. Itâ(TM)s ironic that the efforts made by engineers to develop an automated feeding machine are soon followed by Goddard stealing bananas for poor children and her family. It seems to be saying that the best minds should be working less on maximizing corporate profits by attempting to automate the most basic of human activities, eating, and more on making sure that everyone has enough to eat. Eating is a recurring theme in the film, with machines â~swallowing upâ(TM) workers at times, and a thief explaining âwe ain't burglars - we're hungry.â? Chaplin realizes at one point that heâ(TM)s better off locked up in prison, where he has a place to sleep and gets fed. The film touches on other aspects of the times. Chaplin is inadvertently swept up into socialist strikes. He also accidentally consumes some ânose candyâ?, and in a very amusing, cocaine-fueled frenzy, he stops other prisoners from escaping. Later heâ(TM)ll also accidentally drink a lot of rum. In addition to the comedic effect these things have, perhaps itâ(TM)s showing us that sometimes people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that while socialism and drugs are such serious topics, there is a silliness to the things we do. The House Un-American Activities Committee took a dimmer view, however, believing the film to be further evidence of Chaplin being a communist. Itâ(TM)s ironic, because if you think about it, Chaplinâ(TM)s character doesnâ(TM)t really have a problem with getting jobs, he just loses them (usually through incompetence), and his message at the end is one of hope. Heâ(TM)s not saying letâ(TM)s overthrow the wealthy and levelize society, heâ(TM)s just saying letâ(TM)s treat people with humanity and respect, including those at the bottom of society. While it has social commentary, the film feels very lighthearted, and has many charming moments. Chaplin is a very graceful roller skater during an extended sequence, and has some funny dance moves. His â~nonsenseâ(TM) song towards the end is fantastic, and I was impressed that he also composed the filmâ(TM)s score, which is quite catchy and was the basis for the Nat King Cole song â~Smileâ(TM). There are of course slapstick elements and pratfalls peppered throughout, some of which work better than others. Overall, itâ(TM)s a brilliant film by a true giant in the industry, and a must-view.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 30, 2016
    A great comedic epic. Chaplin's critique of capitalism is right on the money, but none of it would have worked if the movie wasn't also hilarious.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 03, 2015
    Amusing and charming, Modern Times still entertains decades later. The set and prop design for the first act (the factory) are very good. The plot takes us through the many ups and downs (mostly downs) of the hero and heroine, and the way they handle it all is very endearing. The lead actress has great spirit and natural beauty. Modern Times isn't a must-see, but I would definitely recommend it.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 04, 2013
    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 H Super Reviewer

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