After watching The Wild Bunch from the AFI top 100 list, I was a little hesitant about the next movie. I was not a huge fan of the western and I was hoping the rest of the movies on the list wouldn’t let me down as well. Number 78 on the list is Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 comedy.
I’m familiar with Charlie Chaplin, however, I’ve only seen clips from his movies and never sat down to watch one from beginning to end. At first, I was not thrilled with the movie. It starts off with Chaplin as a factory worker, whose job on an assembly line is anything but fascinating. Of course, that was the point of this part of the film. Chaplin’s character is forced to work faster and faster until he ultimately has a breakdown. After a stay in the hospital he is thrust onto the streets again. He’s then mistaken as a leader of a Communist demonstration and is arrested. During his time in jail, he accidentally ingests cocaine and while high he stops a jailbreak. He’s seen as a hero and is put back onto the streets once again. However, everything isn’t rosy on the streets and he misses his time in jail. He tries to get arrested again. During this process, he stumbles upon an orphan (Paulette Goddard) who is on the run from the police. She’s stolen some bread. Chaplin informs the police that he is the culprit, not the orphan. This ploy doesn’t work. What follows is an entertaining love story between Chaplin’s character and the orphan.
I used to work with a Charlie Chaplin fanatic. He owned all of his movies and talked about him incessantly. His passion never bothered me since I love this time in history and my friend is extremely funny. Also, I’ve always appreciated people who are passionate and aren’t afraid to show it. While I enjoyed Modern Times, I couldn’t figure out why my friend loved Chaplin so much. Yes he’s funny, thought-provoking, and inspiring. But I don’t see myself seeking out all of his movies and biographies so I can learn everything about him. Albeit, not all of us can be passionate about the same thing or life would be boring. I’m glad I finally watched this film and I see why it’s on the list. I wasn’t dazzled by it, yet I was entertained and it kept my interest, unlike The Wild Bunch. Maybe if I was alive during the time it was released it would have had a greater impact on me.
All the President’s Men is next on the list. I’ve seen this film before and I’m looking forward to watching it again.
When I was in Montreal, Canada a few years ago I stumbled upon this. The Little Tramp really is one of the most recognizable characters in film history.