Quickie: Modern Times/The Great Dictator

2 Jun

I won’t recapitulate my feelings on the Chaplin/Keaton/Lloyd schisms beyond saying again that I love ‘em all.

I do think Lloyd made the most effective transition to talkies, though few mention his post-silent work (Movie Crazy, anyone?), but Chaplin got out of that argument altogether by not really doing it for a dozen or so years. (Yes, a few words are spoken in Modern Times, but it’s really a silent film.) And this option – which none but one with the popularity of a Chaplin could get by with – allowed him to mature in a form everyone else abandoned. Even The Great Dictator is silent in much of its logic, and its language use spends almost as much time on gibberish and double talk than English.

My way of saying that Modern Times is just a lovely thing, one of those films full of images people who haven’t seen it don’t even know they know.


Ditto The Great Dictator.


I’m going to remind my sister to tape these (Modern Times is on TCM Monday June 3 at 6:00 a.m., Dictator at 11:15 a.m.) for the nieces. The four-year-old’s response to The Gold Rush was surprising and vehement and she’s become a Charlie fan. While these two are trickier to comprehend, she doesn’t seem to care.

Nor should anyone. Both have aged superbly (Dictator surprisingly so – I’d even argue that its oft-derided final speech plays better now) and if you’ve missed them somehow, they’re must-sees.

2 Responses to “Quickie: Modern Times/The Great Dictator”


  1. DVR Alert: To Be or Not to Be(1942) | I Humbly Suggest... - June 23, 2013

    […] Forgetting even Jack Benny and Carole Lombard for a second, forget about it being right next to The Great Dictator as one of the finest WWII comedies made during the war itself… and remember Felix […]

  2. Mon Oncle (1958) and other beloveds | I Humbly Suggest... - July 19, 2013

    […] done, enjoy the brilliant and entirely intertwined block that follows: Tati’s clear inspiration, Chaplin’s Modern Times at 10:00 p.m. and Chaplin’s clear inspiration, René Clair’s À Nous La […]

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