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Modern Times (1936)
Photo: The Criterion Collection

Modern Times (1936)

  Movie House Memories Episode #92
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United Artists released Modern Times to theaters on February 5, 1936; grossing $165,000. Charles Chaplin directs the film silent film starring Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, and Henry Bergman.

Modern Times Movie Summary

Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) is a classic that many consider the last “silent” movie. The beloved Little Tramp is a factory worker who suffers a nervous breakdown trying to keep up with the inhumane demands of industrialization. The authorities briefly institutionalize The Tramp. Upon his release, he unintentionally finds himself in the middle of a communist workers march and is mistakenly taken for the leader. They hastily jail him.

The Tramp actually enjoys his time in the pen. As usual, there are major mishaps but this time the Tramp is the hero. He saves the jail guards from a prisoner revolt. As a reward, they free the Tramp, and the Sheriff gives him a glowing letter of recommendation.

The Tramp meets a homeless young woman (The Gamin, played by Paulette Goddard) who is also down on her luck. After her father’s murder, she runs away from the custody of a juvenile officer. Her younger siblings are still in state custody.

A bystander catches the Gamin stealing bread to survive. However, the Tramp tries to take the blame for her. The police arrest them both, and, in true Little Tramp fashion, make a clumsy escape. The Tramp and Gamin dream of a happy life together. In their fantasy they have a cozy home and plenty of delicious food.

There is hope for the couple when the Gamin lands a job as a dancer in a café and the Tramp uses his letter from the Sheriff to try several jobs. Unfortunately, the Juvenile authorities catch up to the Garmin and they must flee again. The Garmin is downtrodden but the Little Tramp encourages her to “buck up, we’ll get along”. The two fade into the sunset. I’d like to believe that they have a happy ending.


This podcast is not endorsed by The Criterion Collection and is intended for entertainment and information purposes only. Modern Times, all names and sounds of Modern Times characters, and any other Modern Times related items are registered trademarks and/or copyrights of The Criterion Collection or their respective trademark and/or copyright holders. All original content of this podcast is the intellectual property of MHM Podcast Network, Movie House Memories and Fuzzy Bunny Slippers Entertainment LLC. unless otherwise noted.

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  • Eddie

    City lights is chaplin’s best film imo. I don’t think the tramp was a pedopile btw. An actors real age doesn’t mean they are the same age as the character they are playing. If imdb didn’t exist I wonder if viewers would make such a big deal about age differences of actors. Matt, you should check out some Lilian Gish movies, since you said acting in silent films doesn’t do much for you. The Wind and Broken Blossoms have great performances by her. Looking forward to the dark knight(wish I didn’t have to wait 2 weeks), I remember Lori said she’s never seen it.

    • Eddie

      Will there be any reviews of buster Keaton films?

      • moviehousechris

        I’m not sure if there will be any for Movie House Memories…although he made a cameo in my pick of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to.the Forum. I think if we do review any of his films, it will be on our Golden Age of the Silver Screen podcast.

    • Matt Palmer

      Hi Eddie, thanks for the recommendation! I’ve never seen any Lilian Gish movies or any Buster Keaton movies for that matter. I’ll check some out.

    • Lori

      Hi Eddie, I agree with you about an actor’s age. I have considered Keaton’s “The General”. I realize that I have not seen many of his films.

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