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.
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