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Trivia / Modern Times

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  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Banned in China: The film was banned in Nazi Germany for "communistic tendencies," although some said it was due to Charlie Chaplin's resemblance to Hitler (exploited a few years later in The Great Dictator). Still others suggested the Nazis disliked Chaplin because they suspected he was at least part Jewish.
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  • Cast the Expert: Cecil Reynolds appears briefly in the film as the minister whose wife has digestive issues. Reynolds was a medical doctor and Charlie Chaplin's personal physician.
  • Dawson Casting: Paulette Goddard, 26 when the film was released, playing a teenager fleeing from the County Juvenile Division.
  • Deleted Scene: The department store sequence originally had a scene where the Tramp lets one of the ex-factory workers clean out the goods from the silverware department of the store. However, Charlie Chaplin later felt this made the petty larceny The Tramp abets too serious a crime, as opposed to stealing food to survive, and he removed it from the final edit.
  • Inspiration for the Work: During a European tour promoting City Lights, Chaplin got the inspiration from both the lamentable conditions of the continent through the Great Depression, along with a conversation with Mahatma Gandhi in which they discussed modern technology. Chaplin did not understand why Gandhi generally opposed it, though he granted that "machinery with only consideration of profit" had put people out of work and ruined lives.
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  • Not Screened for Critics: Charlie Chaplin wanted critics to see the film with a general audience, so there were no previews and no advance screenings.
  • Real-Life Relative: Assistant director Carter De Haven's daughter plays one of the Gamin's sisters.
  • Romance on the Set: Charlie Chaplin later married Paulette Goddard.
  • Take That, Audience!: Audience demand for sound films had destroyed many careers. While Chaplin was unaffected (his 1931 silent City Lights was a hit, and the 47-year-old actor was already scaling back his film output by this time, anyway), many of his contemporaries - in particular his close friend, Douglas Fairbanks - were hit hard. Artistically, Chaplin objected, especially when it came to the notion of the Tramp's voice being heard. For Modern Times, Chaplin used distorted or unexpected sounds, and the only time a human voice is heard it's either on a transmission, a recording or - as the Tramp finally speaks - it's gibberish. Appropriately, Chaplin retired the Tramp after this film; The Great Dictator features a character who resembles the Tramp, but is clearly not.
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  • Unintentional Period Piece: Averted/inverted: As the film was actually a "talkie," Charlie Chaplin wanted to thumb his nose... at the new "talkies." Even more cutting since his career (like many silent film stars) was never the same, all dialogue and sounds are somehow obscured or distorted (a hammer dropped on a concrete floor makes a muted "thud" sound, for example; also, when the Tramp's voice is finally heard, it's singing gibberish).
  • What Could Have Been: In his autobiography Charlie Chaplin mentions an idea for the ending in which Goddard's character becomes a nun.
    • It was the first Chaplin movie with a written script. While dialogue is in fact heard on screen (always from artificial sources except when Chaplin "sings"), every scene featuring Chaplin and Goddard's characters talking to each other also had dialogue fully written in advance, which is something Chaplin hadn't really done before. Chaplin was apparently on the fence about whether to make this his first full talkie or not, but ultimately decided against it. He made his talkie debut with The Great Dictator.
  • Working Title: Production No. 5 and The Masses.

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