Criterion Corner. Modern Times (1936)

The Criterion Collection for years have been releasing the best versions of movies on DVD and Blue Ray.  They are hands down the ultimate praise a film can receive,and while many claim  the Oscar to be  the ultimate recognition.  Having the work and praise that goes into a Criterion edition.  Shows that it was put together by film lovers for film lovers.  This section is going to be dedicated to some of the great movies in this growing collection.

Modern Times. 1936


Charlie Champlin’s “The Tramp” character is very iconic.  You don’t even need to have seen any of that character’s other movies to understand what he looks like.  The small moustache, bowler hat, and the little shuffle he does is remembered even to this day.  I have seen only  small sections of movies with this character, but never a full one before.  “Modern Times” would be my first full Champlin feature(not counting the one where Robert Downey Jr. portrayed him), but it would be the last time he would use the character of The Tramp.   What amazes me even more is that movie is essentially a silent movie, but it’s use of sound throughout would have me guessing otherwise.  It’s actually kind of amazing how something we usually take for granted can appear fresh and new when used sparingly.    It also has some really impressive effects that today still boggle my mind.  There is a great moment when The Tramp is rollerskating upstairs at a department store and gets dangerously close to the edge.  Even when I know how the effect was done.  I still get a little nervous watching it.  I can’t help it.     For a movie that was made in the era was cinema was still pretty much a new-born.   It still manages to do things that makes most movies made today a failure in comparison.

The Criterion Company does not  skimp when it comes to Special Features, and the ones for “Modern Times” are just as impressive if not more than the actual movie.

Audio Commentary by Charlie Chaplin biographer David Robinson.

Two visual essays by Chaplin Historians John Bengston and Jeffery Vance.

Featurette on the special effects with experts Ben Burtt and Craig Barron.

Interview with music arranger David Raskin, plus a selection from the film’s original soundtrack.

Deleted Scenes


All at Sea: A rare home movie featuring Chaplin and co-star Paulette Goddard.

The Rink(1916) an early Chaplin short film

For the First Time  (1967).  A short documentary about a traveling theatre that shows people  who have never seen a movie before.

Chaplin Today:  Filmmakers Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne discuss the many aspects of this movie.

(The famous roller skating scene)

About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcasts The Film Pasture, ScreenTrax, and soon Cinema Recall. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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2 Responses to Criterion Corner. Modern Times (1936)

  1. Glad you liked this one. You might have noticed but I’m a huge Chaplin nut and this ranks as one of his finest. The rollerskating scene IS scary like you say but there is so much to this film. I always find the sparse use of sound and the political aspects to be the most interesting as both had a major impact on his latter career.

    Those are some great extras too. There have been some fantastic Chaplin releases in recent years which put the free versions available online to shame.

  2. The Vern says:

    The use of sound was incredible even though it was sparse. It became just as memorable as the images. Thanks for the comment

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