Peer to Peer Magazine

June 2010

The quarterly publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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Times s almost-silent film is a hero. Along the way he also meets his soul-mate, “The Gamin” (Paulette Goddard), who, like him, hapless and homeless, is a mere cog that has fallen through the cracks in Society’s machinery. The two fall in love and support each other through thick and thin. How does it all end? Suffice to say, luck and love prevail, and the two free spirits, The Tramp and The Gamin, walk off into the sunset, hand-in-hand. For once, it’s Society - 0, Cogs - 1. So why would you want to see a 75-year old, near-silent black-and-white film in this age of giant screen Plasma and LCD TV, video phones, Internet streaming and 3-D movies? Because in many ways, “Modern Times” is more modern than you might imagine, both in its messages and its film techniques. But most of all, because it’s funny — as funny today as it was in 1936 — and likely to be in 2020. Joel (Andy) Spiegel is a creative director for a business software company based in Austin, Texas, and a freelance writer. An ardent movie watcher, he maintains a blog called “My Private Screening Room,” which spotlights movie reviews of films from the ‘30s to today. But for the “p” in his surname, he might have been the late Joel Siegel, reviewing movies professionally rather than as a hobby. He can be reached at “Modern Times” Trivia Courtesy of IMDB • Chaplin began preparing the film in 1934 as his first “talkie,” and went so far as writing a dialogue script and experimenting with some sound scenes. However, he soon abandoned these attempts and reverted to a silent format with synchronized sound effects. The dialogue experi- ments confirmed his long-standing conviction that the uni- versal appeal of The Tramp would be lost if the character ever spoke on screen. Most of the film was shot at “silent speed,” 18 frames per second, which when projected at “sound speed,” 24 frames per second, makes the slapstick action appear even more frenetic. Available prints of the film now correct this. The duration of filming was long, beginning on October 1934 and ending in August 1935. • The movie ’s theme melody was composed by Chaplin. It was later given lyrics, and became the pop standard “Smile,” first recorded by Nat King Cole and later covered by many others including Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Michael Bublé, Petula Clark, Liberace and Judy Garland. • This would be the last screen appearance of The Little Tramp — the character which had brought Charles Chap- lin world fame, and who still remains the most universally recognized fictional image of a human being in the history of art. • The film originally ended with The Tramp suffering a ner- vous breakdown and being visited in the hospital by The Gamin, who has become a nun. This ending was filmed, but only still photographs from the scene exist today (they are included in the 2003 DVD release of the film). Chaplin replaced this down ending with one more upbeat. • This was one of the films which, because of its political sentiments, convinced the House Un-American Activities Committee that Chaplin was a Communist, a charge he adamantly denied. He left to live in Switzerland, vowing never to return to America. • Co-star Paulette Goddard actually made significant story contributions. She and Chaplin were romantically involved at the time. • The movie cost approximately $1.5 million to make in 1936 — which would be roughly $23.5 million today and $27.7 million in 2020. Peer to Peer the quarterly magazine of ILTA 87

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