Monday, February 22, 2010

"WE AIN'T BURGLARS - WE'RE HUNGRY"




Original lithograph advertisment
The 1936 film Modern Times
Poster produced for the 1950s British re-release of the film
Printed in Great Britain by Stafford and Co. Ltd.
From Henry Sotheran Litd.



Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library
at Alt Film Guide


From DVDBeaver


PAULETTE GODDARD AS THE GAMINE
painfully pretty
From THEWORDSLINGER


From AMC Company LLC.
One of Charlie Chaplin’s masterpieces, this satire is a direct assault on the modern age. Chaplin plays a factory worker who goes crazy from the repetition and demand for greater speed. This was the last of Chaplin’s silent films, made well after the advent of sound, and it features Chaplin’s own musical score and sound effects. The 90-minute, black and white, silent film also stars Paulette Goddard (phillyfunguide.com)





All images from CULT PRINTS


From phillyfundGUIDE
Charlie works in a huge factory. The director orders to go faster. Unable to do it, Charlie is eaten by a machine and gets completely mad. So he begins to dance everywhere, to screw all that makes him think of bolts, like gentlemen’s noses, buttons on the dress of a secretary, until they decide to evacuate him. Released from hospital, Charlie is unemployed. After a misunderstanding during a riot by striking workers, the police take Charlie for the leader and get him to jail. At the refectory of the prison, Charlie absorbs, not by purpose some drugs that a neighbor had hidden in the salt. Then the prisoners must return to their cells and Charlie, who doesn’t know why or how, get outside of the jail. Trying to return to his cell, Charlie puts alone end to a riot. As a reward, the guards offer a comfortable cell to Charlie.
(Collectorz.com Connect )




Images from ZUGuide


From DVDBeaver


From festival.aneres.free.fr
The tramp is pardoned from jail, and the sheriff provides him with a testimonial letter to help him find work. His job attempts, however, all end in disaster, and the tramp resolves to go back to jail. The gamin steals a loaf of bread from a baker, and the tramp intercedes when she is arrested, claiming he stole the bread. The girl is arrested nevertheless, so the tramp buys a huge meal at a cafeteria. When presented with the check, he waves a cop passing by into the restaurant to arrest him. He meets the girl in the paddy wagon, but they fall out when the vehicle turns a corner. As they pass by a residential community, the tramp fantasizes with the girl about living in a real home. Becoming inspired, the tramp pledges he will work hard to make this dream a reality. He obtains a job as a night watchman in a department store. He lets the girl into the empty store so she can spend the night sleeping in one of the model beds. Some homeless men break into the store and recognize the tramp; they had also worked in the factory before it closed. They get drunk on the liquor they steal from the store. The next day, the tramp is discovered drunk when the store opens, and he is arrested.
(Modern Times (1936), Overview, Synopsis, Critique at encyclopedia.jrank.org)


FromZU Guide


Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard
From CinEmotions.com


Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard
From CinEmotions.com


The girl, however, awakens early and escapes. She finds an abandoned shack in a marsh area and tries to fix it up. When the tramp is released from prison, she takes him to the rundown shanty, which he describes as “paradise.” Learning the factory is going to reopen, Charlie rushes to apply for the start-up crew. He is assigned to be the apprentice to the master mechanic testing the long-idle machines. However, due to low wages, the other workers call a strike, and they are forced to leave the building. When the cops think the tramp deliberately tosses a brick at them, he is again arrested. While in jail, the gamin manages to get a job dancing at a cafe. When the tramp is released from jail, the cafe owner promises him an audition to be a singing waiter. Meanwhile, the juvenile authorities receive a tip that Ellen is working at the cafe. The tramp keeps forgetting the words to his song, but the girl writes them down on his cuffs.

a pretty girl and a gay old man
flirted on the boulevard
he was a fat old thing
but his diamond ring
caught her eye as...

As he dances around before starting his number, the tramp accidentally tosses away his cuffs. He then sings his nonsense song and is a hit.

...La spinach or la busho, Cigaretto toto bello, Ce rakish spagoletto, Ce le tu la tu la trois! Senora fila scena, voulez-vous la taximeter, Le jaunta sur la seata, Je le tu le tu le waaah!...

The owner hires him, but at this moment of triumph, the juvenile officers step in to take custody of Ellen. She and the tramp escape. By dawn, they prepare to set off down the road to another town. Tired by their struggle against homelessness and poverty, the gamin sees no point in going on. The tramp tells her to “buck up” and smile, and they head down the road together at the fade out, accompanied by Chaplin’s tune “Smile” on the soundtrack.
(Modern Times (1936), Overview, Synopsis, Critique at encyclopedia.jrank.org)


Paulette Goddard



Paulette Goddard
Images from ZU Guide


From DVDBeaver


From AMC Company LLC.
In Modern Times (1936), the still-silent Tramp, with his familiar small Derby hat, mustache, large boots, baggy pants, tight jacket and cane makes his last screen appearance. Filmed between 1932 and 1936, it was directed, written, scored, and produced by Chaplin himself - and he also starred in his own 'one-man show' with his current wife and kindred spirit Paulette Goddard. This was Chaplin's first film after his successful City Lights (1931), released nine years after the advent of 'talkies.'
This social protest film is Charlie Chaplin's final stand against the synchronized sound film - and it is also his last full-length "silent film" - although it must be noted that it is a quasi-silent film. There is no traditional, synchronized voice dialogue in the film - but voices and sounds do emanate from machines (e.g., the feeding machine), television screens (i.e., the Big Brother screen - pre-dating George Orwell's book 1984, written/published in 1949), and Chaplin's actual voice is heard singing an imaginary, nonsense song of gibberish. Special sound effects and an original musical score (by composer Chaplin, including various musical themes from "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum," "Prisoner's Song," "How Dry I Am," and "In the Evening By the Moonlight") enhance the pantomime.
Set in the 1930s during the Great Depression era, the film's main concerns (and those of the oppressed Tramp) echo those of millions of people at the time - unemployment, poverty, and hunger. It has a number of wonderfully inventive and memorable routines and scenes that proclaim the frustrating struggle by proletarian man against the dehumanizing effects of the machine in the Industrial Age (at the time of Henry Ford's assembly line), and various social institutions.
(American Movie Classics Company LLC)



Images from ImageShack Corp.


The famous symbolic opening shot, with footage of wave after wave of sheep crowding through a sheepfold passageway suddenly dissolving into footage of workers bustling out of a subway station, has lost nothing of its impact. Indeed, contemporary viewers will easily make the connection between Chaplin’s image and the world of enclosures and passageways so familiar to corporate America’s cubicle dwellers — and to fans of Scott Adams’s Dilbert comic strip (who of course tend to be the same people).
(Steven D. Greydanus at DECENT films GUIDE)


From DVDBeaver


Another Dilbert-like early scene shows the Tramp trying to take a break during work hours in the washroom — only to have a big-screen image of the boss’s head suddenly appear on the washroom wall and order him to quit stalling and get back to work. Modern audiences watching this scene may reflect ruefully on the everyday reality of electronic surveillance in the workplace — perhaps not even noticing that the sequence was shot decades before viable television, to say nothing of big-screen two-way communication. (In a nice effect, as the Tramp hustles out of the washroom, the boss’s eyes seem to follow him.)
As all these examples suggest, Modern Times looks toward the future, but not with enthusiasm. Often described as a satire of the machine age, Modern Times has in fact a broader theme: the dehumanizing effects of many aspects of modernity, including industrialization, bureaucracy, urbanization, and law enforcement.
Obviously Chaplin wasn’t against progress or technology; after all, cinema itself, even silent cinema, is a quintessentially modern medium. And it goes without saying that the modern era has brought many extraordinary advances in such areas as medicine, food production, and so on. It’s easy to imagine someone making a companion film called Ancient Times highlighting the difficulties of life in premodern conditions. Still, even if we decide in the end that, all things considered, we prefer today’s quality of life to that of earlier periods, that shouldn’t prevent us from recognizing the social ills and failings of our own day.
For example, a recurring theme in Modern Times is the phenomenon of unemployment. Now, obviously there’s nothing new about widespread poverty and want, but unemployment as we know it today is a comparatively recent development — a byproduct of the modern workforce economy that requires everyone to "get a job." (In premodern societies, generally speaking, the challenge for able-bodied people was often less "finding work" than being able to survive on the work one did.)
At the same time, Chaplin’s critique of "modern" times sometimes reminds us of the progress made even since his day. We still have unemployment, of course, but at comparatively low levels — and with a far more robust system of social "safety nets" (unemployment benefits, welfare and social services, shelters and food pantries, etc.) than existed in Chaplin’s day. Few people today are in a position of having to steal in order to eat, like Chaplin’s heroine (vivacious Paulette Goddard, Chaplin’s real-life wife at the time), said to be a "gamin" or "child of the waterfront" who "refuses to go hungry." Or like the burglars the Tramp encounters while working as a security guard, one of whom happens to know the Tramp and says plaintively, "We ain’t burglars — we’re hungry."
(Steven D. Greydanus at DECENT films GUIDE)


Production still of the actual filming
© Roy Export Company, courtesy NBC Photographie, Paris


Production still of the actual filming
Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library
at Alt Film Guide




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