This was both the first movie Charlie Chaplin’s character, the Tramp, actually spoke in and the last movie to officially use silent film techniques and conventions as a serious filmmaking technique. It marked the end of an era for cinema. Also, the score is really great too, being both original and able to capture the feeling of each scene perfectly.
Though Charlie Chaplin is as great in this as he is in everything, Paulette Goddard really does a great job, especially since she probably hadn’t been in a silent movie before, which I imagine is harder to act in since your words can’t do any of the acting for you. Still she stands out in this movie. I wonder if she had to put up with a lot of Charlie’s bullshit throughout the film, from what I’ve heard he was a perfectionist director. As an example of that filming for this lasted 10 months, and this was considered fast for one of his films. He also once had a woman say her line 54 times before he was satisfied IN A SILENT FILM! So yeah, maybe a bit of a perfectionist…
The slapstick in this film is very good, even for Chaplin. I feel like he sought to make the best silent comedy after all silent movies were already out the door. Though I don’t know if this accomplishes that, I do think it’s the funniest one I’ve seen so far (sorry Buster Keaton).
As a complaint, this has the same problem I’ve seen from other silent era comedies in that it gets a bit bogged down in just trying to tell good jokes instead of progressing the story and thus the plot becomes secondary to the comedy. Being that the story and the comedy run hand in hand for the first half of the film, this becomes amazingly obvious about half-way through. It comes back a bit at the end though, but just a little bit.
Why to watch it before you die: Aptly named Modern Times marks the end of the silent era. Watch it if you like silent era comedies, Charlie Chaplin, or are just a film-history buff.
+8: Great movie that’s fun from start to finish
+1: Good Acting
+1: Amazing score
-1: Loses the plot halfway through