AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Modern Times
Director: Charlie Chaplin (Dir)
Release Date:   21 Feb 1936
Duration (in mins):  87
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Cast: Charlie Chaplin  (A factory worker)
  Paulette Goddard  (A gamin)
  Henry Bergman  (A cafe proprietor)
 

Summary: An oppressed assembly-line factory worker is used as a guinea pig for his employer's test of an Automatic Feeding Machine. The machine malfunctions, nearly driving the worker crazy. In a nervous frenzy, he runs madly through the factory, spraying oil everywhere. He is taken to a hospital, but immediately after his release, is arrested when he is mistaken for a radical leader. Prison life is comfortable, and he reluctantly accepts parole after he heroically stops a jailbreak. Outside, he discovers mass unemployment, and despite a glowing letter of recommendation, he cannot hold a job. Eager to return to jail, he gallantly admits to stealing a loaf of bread to save a starving gamin. The result is that they are both arrested, but manage to escape the police. Together, they dream of a middle class life, and when the worker becomes a department store night watchman, they happily play among the luxuries they cannot afford. One night, burglars enter the store, and the worker is arrested again. The gamin tries to make a home for him in an abandoned shack, and this time, when he is released, his factory has reopened. He goes back to work repairing machines, but a strike puts him out of a job and back in jail. The gamin finally gets employment dancing in a cafe, and when the worker is freed, he becomes a singing waiter. Despite his ineptness, he makes a hit with an improvised nonsense song, but just as the couple are a success, the police try to arrest the gamin, who is wanted for running away from Juvenile Hall. The worker and the gamin escape the officers and set out on the road together. 

Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.
Production Company: Charles Chaplin Film Corp.
Director: Charlie Chaplin (Dir)
  Carter DeHaven [Sr.] (Asst dir)
  Henry Bergman (Asst dir)
Producer: Charlie Chaplin (Prod)
Writer: Charlie Chaplin (Wrt)

Subject Major: Class distinction
  The Depression, 1929
  Factory workers
  Orphans
  Prison life
  Romance
  Tramps
  Unemployment
 
Subject Minor: Arrests
  Caf├ęs
  Cocaine
  Dancers
  Department stores
  Hunger
  Inventions
  Mechanics
  Mistaken identity
  Nervous breakdown
  Police
  Radicalism
  Roller-skating
  Waiters

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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