June 2, 2007
Lost Movie Weekend #3
Charlie Chaplin & Paulette Goddard in 'Modern Times'.
This movie was a revelation for me! About all I'd seen of Charlie Chaplin are those 10 second clips of his greatest hits. What a delight it was finding this full length movie. The pace is so easy and delightful. It was the last 'silent' film he made (1936), though it's odd because it does have bits of talking sound. It's an odd logic where radios can talk with sound but people only talk with subtitles. Makes perfect sense somehow. Chaplin also wrote the music... which is just right.
Paulette Goddard is the perfect street urchin companion to Charlie. It's hard to find that kind of kindness & sweetness & joy in a movie star these days. It's easy to see how she stole the heart of a nation. In this scene she & Charlie imagine a dream house... though in fact they're really living in a shack.
I like watching old movies for all the secondary things in the background. I think it's a marvel to see how fences were made in the 1930's and how telephone poles looked 50 years ago... what coffee pots and wallpaper and sinks and lamp posts used to be like. But it's escape mostly. For the first time in history, people can escape back 100 years to a land of real time images from the past.