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  • Writer's pictureSteve

Modern Times (1936)

[IMDB Completionists Series - #4 of 85]

I might be in the minority here, but I prefer Harold Lloyd to Charlie Chaplin. I always have. Both are fantastic performers with their own unique attributes. You could argue that if it wasn't for Chaplin, I may never have come across Harold Lloyd at all, and you may be right, but I would say that Lloyd would still have come to my attention from also truly loving Laurel & Hardy and they top both in my opinion.

Modern Times is the last real 'silent' film to speak of and you could suggest that it is the final word from the world's foremost silent comedy star and his thinly-veiled feelings about moving to a new technological age (sound), seeing as he writes, produces and directs this effort.

It is also pertinent that my review would not be improved by the length of the picture as I have found madcap lunacy is better in small doses, confined where possible to half an hour at a time. This might just be me also, but Modern Times is guilty, as are many others, of trying to make too much out of what could easily be done in half the time, through demand rather than convention, I imagine.

When all is said and done, Chaplin shines here just as he should, given that he does all the jobs of note that would allow him to. By this time, inventiveness has to take a back seat, as there isn't much we haven't seen Chaplin do a hundred times before, or something very like it. Compared to his other films, there seems like less soul in this ode to silence, lacking a real emotional thread to pull on, which we know he could do if he chose to.

A classic, certainly, but not outstanding just because its old.


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