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MODERN TIMES – Charles Chaplin

February 28, 2022 Leave a comment Go to comments

GREATEST SCORES OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Original Review by Craig Lysy

Charlie Chaplin’s inspiration for the film Modern Times arose from the deplorable social and economic conditions that he found in Europe in the aftermath of the Great Depression. A personal conversation with Mahatma Gandhi about the negative effects of modern technology on people’s lives was also instrumental. In 1934 he began conceiving the film’s story, which would serve as his first ‘talkie’ film. However, he abandoned this and instead chose to make his last silent film with the Tramp character as he felt the universal appeal of him would be lost with dialogue. Once again he would oversee production, direct, write the screenplay, compose the music, and star in the film. Joining him would be Paulette Goddard as Ellen Petersen, Henry Bergman as the café proprietor, Stanley “Tiny” Sanford as Big Bill and Chester Conklin as the Mechanic.

The story follows once again the Tramp character who struggles to survive and find meaning in his life as he toils in a mindless, repetitive assembly line worker job. He meets Ellen one day who stole bread to feed her starving family and they find a common bond of misery. Every time they find new jobs and try to better their lives, forces beyond their control rise up to oppose them. Ellen eventually loses hope that happiness is even possible, and that further trying is futile and pointless. Yet the Tramp reassures her, takes her hand, and they walk together done the road choosing to believe that better days will surely come. The film was a modest commercial success, earning a profit of $300,000. It received universal critical acclaim as a testament to Chaplin’s genius and one of his greatest achievements. Despite this, it received no Academy Award nominations.

Charlie Chaplin made the decision to once again score his film, realizing that Modern Times more serious social commentary would require music larger in scope, and with more gravitus than the simple narrative of “City Lights”. To that end his orchestra was increased from 30 players to 64, including; 2 piccolos, 2 flutes, oboe, English horn, 5 clarinets, bass-clarinet, contrabass-clarinet, soprano saxophone, 2 alto saxophones, tenor saxophone, bassoon, 2 horns, 3 trumpets (with 9 different mutes each), tenor trombone, bass-trombone, Tuba, 4 percussionists (snare drum, bass drum, large cymbals, suspended cymbal, choke cymbal, Turkish and Greek finger cymbals, gong, drum kit, 2 xylophones, vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, chimes, 3 sets of tuned anvils, temple blocks, woodblocks, castanets, triangle and timpani), harp, piano, celesta, male vocal quartet, 8 first violins, 8 second violins, 6 violas, 4 ‘cellos and 2 contrabasses. Once again Chaplin required a musical collaborator to bring his melodies to fruition as he could not read or write in the musical idiom. Instead, he would hum, or “La La, La” his melodies, which would have to be transcribed into musical notation. To that end he solicited the assistance of Alfred Newman to conduct, and David Raksin and Edward Powell to arrange and orchestrate, yet he remained in creative control often writing directives on the drafts such as; “brighter here,” “no oboe” or “add melody for cello here”.

In conceiving his soundscape, Chaplin provides 12 themes, including; the Exploitation Theme, which emotes as strident, blaring dissonant fanfare. It speaks to the exploitation and dehumanization of capitalist industry. The Humanity Theme embraces both Charlie and Ellen in their common struggle to find happiness and meaning to their lives. The string borne theme soars with strings appassianato for a breath-taking statement, which perfectly juxtaposes the harsh, mechanistic dissonance of the exploitative capitalist system. The “Smile” Love Theme offers the iconic melody by aching strings d’Amore, which earned Chaplin, immortality. Chaplin relates that he was inspired by Puccini’s Tosca opera when conceiving the melody. Although minor modal, the melody’s message is to cheer up and believe that new and brighter days lie ahead. Eighteen years later in 1954 Nat King Cole would add lyrics, which truly elevated the song, achieving a sublime confluence. The Paradise Theme speaks to the idealized, dream existence to which Ellen and Charlie aspire. It offers flowery and idyllic musical narrative of bliss.

Ellen’s Theme reflects her appearance as a ‘gamin’, and offers a vibrant and impulsive exposition, reflecting the impetuosity of youth. Ellen’s Father’s Theme offers sad, descending four-note phrases by strings tristi buttressed by dark chords of futility for the depressed unemployed man. The Cell Mate’s Theme is dichotomous with its introduction emoted by menacing low register strings and bassoon, which speak to the large burly man, only to be transformed into a danza gavotte after he amazingly takes up his hobby of needlepoint. The Prison Preacher’s Wife Theme offers a comedic ballo goffo replete with a hiccuping bassoon. The City Mob Theme bristles with anger, and offers five violent orchestral chords, buttressed with a bass-drum fortissimo, which culminates in a shrill orchestral “scream”. The Work Theme offers a harsh, pounding staccato construct, which drives men like sheep to their factory jobs. It emotes as a musical lash, which drives and compels with its relentless, merciless rhythm. The Factory Assembly Line Theme speaks to the mindless, repetitive toil of men working the assembly line. It offers a staccato, mechanistic three-note construct replete with piccolo and bass-clarinet trills, anvil strikes, and presto paced string figures. Lastly, the austere Foreman’s Theme is grim, and emotes atop austere trombones and kindred horns

“Opening” offers a brilliant score highlight where Chaplin in a masterstroke of conception capture’s the film’s narrative. We open dramatically atop shrill, dissonant fanfare, which trigger orchestral strikes as a clock face displays to support the roll of the opening credits. At 0:12 sumptuous strings usher in the Humanity Theme, which soars with passion for a breath-taking statement. At 0:53 the harsh opening fanfare reprises as script displays: “Modern Times. A story of industry, of individual enterprise – humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness”.

At 1:01 we return to the Humanity Theme with all is sumptuous beauty. At 1:10 we flow into the film proper with “Sheep” atop the driving, herding Work Theme as we see a heard of sheep being driven. The screen dissolves to reveal people flowing out of the subway, heading to the factory, punching into the time clock, and then heading to the factory floor driven by the unrelenting, dehumanizing, forcing staccato rhythm of the Work Theme.

“The Factory Assembly Line” offer an amazing score highlight! It reveals company president Al Garcia of the Electro Steel Corporation ordering turbine operator Sammy Stein to speed up assembly line 5. As he dials up the speed heraldic trumpets resound and launch the Factory Assembly Line Theme, which offers a staccato, mechanistic three-note construct replete with piccolo and bass-clarinet trills, anvil strikes, and presto paced string figures. We see the Tramp desperately trying to keep up with his job of bolt tightener as the metal parts rush down the assembly line. When he scratches or swipes a bee away, parts fly by, which forces him to run and try to tighten them, which disrupts workers downstream. Chaplin speaks to this by sowing comedy within the music’s mercilessly driving staccato rhythms. At 1:15 dire horns resound as a fellow worker calls for the line to halt as he has struck the Tramp’s hand with his hammer. The grim trombones of the Foreman’s Theme join as he castigates Charlie. At 1:25 tension mounts as line has been restarted at a faster pace by order of President Garcia. The unrelenting mechanistic Assembly Line Theme resumes as the Tramp struggles to keep up. A diminuendo supports the foreman relieving him for break with the Assembly Line Theme resuming with instilled comedy as we see the Tramp still mimicking his bolt tightening movements as he jerkily walks to the restroom. All ceases atop trilling woodwinds as he reaches the sanctuary of the restroom. At 2:11 the sumptuous string borne Humanity Theme supports Charlie reaching the sanctuary of the restroom and smoking a cigarette. A large wall screen comes alive with President Garcia, who orders him back to work, which leads to the Tramp scurrying back carried by the mechanistic Assembly Line Theme. He defers jumping in as he files his nails, but eventually is ordered back in and the unending monotony of bolt tightening begins anew.

“The Feeding Machine” opens with faux fanfare reale as a team of sales agents bring in the latest creation, a feeding machine that will automatically feed workers at the line, thus eliminating breaks, and raising productivity. At 0:11 we segue into “Lunch” a score highlight where Chaplin achieves a perfect musical-comedic confluence. The line shuts down as workers begin their lunch break. We open with silliness with a series of xylophone and pizzicato string tweaks as the Tramp adjusts a few more bolts and then comically some bolt nut like buttons on a woman’s dress. Goofy woodwinds animato emote a comic plodding tune to support the silliness. The Tramp’s body is still mimicking the bolt nut tightening motions and his twitching spills all his fellow worker’s soup. At 0:55 faux fanfare reale supports the bringing of the ‘Feeding Machine’ to the assembly line for testing. Woodwinds comico and a sardonic bassoon support Charlie being selected as the guinea pig. What follows is the machine initially working to feed him, empowered by happy go lucky mechanistic scherzando. But soon the machine malfunctions and runs amuck with a corn on the cob rotating wildly in his mouth as he sprays kernels! Chaplin supports at 1:51 with an extended scherzando comico with prancing strings animato and bubbly woodwinds as the technicians try to fix the malfunction. We conclude at 5:16 with a crescendo of silliness as the machine runs amuck with poor Charlie manhandled.

Lunch is over, and in “Charlie’s Breakdown” we have another magnificent cinematic confluence. Garcia orders assembly line 5 to run at maximum speed, which Chaplin supports with a manic rendering of the Assembly Line Theme as Charlie shifts into overdrive to keep up. At 0:46 Charlie cracks and a gong strike supports him getting sucked into the gears of the machine. As Charlie is drawn into the cogs of the assembly-line’s gears, the musical narrative unfolds softly in a slow dreamlike ambiance of bliss emoted by celeste, glockenspiel and piccolo. At 2:06 the Assembly Line Theme resumes its manic expression for seven amazing minutes as Charlie is pulled back from the internal machine cogs and then wreaks havoc in the factory, teasing, mocking and spraying his coworkers with an oil can. He then runs outside entices by the bolt nut buttons on two women’s dresses, which causes the police to join the chase in a madcap lunacy chase propelled vigorously by Chaplin’s frenetic musical narrative. At 4:25 two horn blaring blasts erupt as the lunatic paddy wagon arrives, with a third blast as Charlie is tossed in. This truly sustained manic passage must have completely exhausted the orchestra! At 4:47 soothing strings and then woodwinds support script saying that Charlie had been cured of his nervous breakdown and would be discharged. The doctor releases him from the sanitarium with the order to take it easy and to avoid excitement. Idyllic strings tenero open the scene joined by woodwinds comico as he waddles out to rejoin life. Outside he is supported by a gentle promenade as he walks down the street. We segue at 5:17 we segue into “Workers Strike”, which interpolates the melody of the American folk song “Hallelujah I’m a Bum”. We open atop the harsh, dissonant, blaring horns of the Exploitation Theme. A red flag falls off a long bed truck, which Charlie picks up and starts waving to alert the driver supported by a gentle promenade. At 5:42 the promenade is overtaken by a marcia per la libertà, a repeating seven-note revolutionary anthem, which swallows him up in their masses. Harsh, strident horns bellicoso erupt at 6:06 as police arrive to break-up the march, with of course Charlie, supported by the anthem, being arrested for being the ‘leader’.

“The Gamin” opens with script “The Gamin – a child of the waterfront who refuses to go hungry.” We see her on a docked boat cutting a cluster of bananas and tossing them to hungry kids on a dock. Her theme declared by sassy saxophone and woodwinds offers a animated and impulsive exposition, reflecting her impetuosity and youth. It supports the theft and then her fleeing from the aggrieved merchant. At 0:55 Ellen returns home and shares some bananas with her younger sisters supported by her vibrant theme overflowing with happiness and familial love. They disappear from the kitchen and at 1:25 we segue into “Father” as their unemployed father arrives home carried by strings tristi emoting his theme, a sad, descending string line buttressed by dark chords of futility. At 1:55 saxophone and harp glissandi usher in Ellen’s theme abounding with happiness as she surprises him with her bananas, joined by her sisters as they all hug him as we see joy well up in his eyes.

“Prison” opens with script “Held as a communist leader, our innocent victim languishes in jail”. A playful marcia animato supports as we see Charlie taken to his cell where he meets his big, burly cell mate, his theme introduced by menacing low register strings and bassoon. Charlie is wary eyed as he sits down next to him, and the music transforms into a danza gavotte as the cell mate amazingly takes up his hobby of needlepoint. The marcia animato returns to support slapstick comedy in the cell as Charlie lowers his upper bunk, and the as the prisoners are ordered to the cafeteria to eat. After more dining comedy by Charlie the music darkens at 1:54 as script reads “Searching for smuggled “nose powder”. At 2:22 a marcia cup supports guards grabbing the suspected prisoner who is taken away, but not before he hides the powder in the salt shaker, which of course Charlie uses. He becomes high and farcical buffoonery ensues supported by a light-hearted, fanciful musical narrative with a slowly increasing frequency of comedic accents. As the prisoners are ordered to stand and march back to their cells, a comedic faux marcia militare unfolds as we see Charlie high on drugs doing spins to embellish his march. Charlie takes a wrong turn, ends up outside in the courtyard as the music darkens with menace at 4:27 as two prisoners hold the warden and two guards at gunpoint. They free other prisoners and lock the three in a cell as Charlie shows up. Strings animato join with chirping and trilling woodwinds to propel an amazing choreographed fight where Charlie takes down all the escaped prisoners and frees the Warden and guards, who reward him for his bravery.

“Trouble” opens with harsh, blaring dissonant fanfare declarations, which support script that reads; “While outside there is trouble with the unemployed” as we see an angry mob of unemployed men. An interlude by woodwinds pastorale support Ellen and her sisters picking up wood for their stove. Harsh stacatto strings bellicoso support the police shooting a man and dispersing the crowd. The dire fanfare blares as Ellen run to the fallen man and discovers to her horror, that it is her father. She cries out why! And her anguish is supported by a lament by strings in lutto. A Pathetique by strings affanato supports script, which reads; “The law takes charge of the orphans.” As the girls are ordered to be taken to an orphanage, Ellen escapes as a policeman takes her younger sister, carried by her theme as flight music. We segue at 1:58 into “A Free Man” where we see Charlie resting comfortably in his VIP cell. A valzer gentile flows gracefully as the Sheriff comes to inform Charlie that his sentence has been commuted and that he is a free man. At 2:31 faux fanfare reale resound as we see the minister and his wife pay their weekly visit. The Prison Preacher’s Wife Theme offers a comedic ball goffo replete with a hiccuping bassoon as we see Charlie and the minister’s wife in a silly coffee drinking scene punctuated by growling stomachs. At 3:28 Charlie formally receives news that he is a free man, yet he asks to remain as he is happy here. A silly musical narrative of woodwinds and horns comico join as the Warden declines and gives him a referral letter for work. At 4:04 blaring staccato horns support Charlie applying for work at a shipbuilding yard. He is hired an ordered to pick up wood scraps. Vibrant strings felice support him and are sustained when the foreman orders him to find a wedge. Charlie finds one, knocks it out of its support structure with a hammer, which launches an unfinished ship, which slides into the sea and sinks. The men are shocked and speechless as Charlie dons his jacket and hat and waddles off supported by the Humanity Theme.

At 5:55 script reads; “Alone and Hungry” supported by Ellen’s Theme, which carries her outside a bakery shop joined by the Humanity Theme. Her theme reprises as she succumbs to hunger, which causes her to steal a loaf of bread and flea propelled by strings of flight. She collides with Charlie; they fall and police come to arrest her as the Humanity Theme blossoms at 6:32 on lush strings d’amore. To her amazement, Charlie sacrifices himself for her by producing the loaf and admitting he stole it, which results in his arrest. Yet the woman witness is insistent and convinces the storekeeper that it was the girl who stole the bread. Ellen’s Theme sounds at 7:07 joined by flight music as the storekeeper and witness run to the policeman, who frees Charlie and then runs after Ellen. At 7:24 Charlie enters a buffet cafeteria and Chaplin launches into a scherzando felice as he loads up two trays full of food. On the street Ellen’s Theme emotes but abruptly ends as she is arrested. The valzer gentile returns at 7:47 as we see Charlie getting up from the table satiated. He grabs a policeman and inform him and the cafeteria owner that he cannot pay his bill. He is arrested and outside he grabs chocolate bars for two boys and sends them off, again informing the policeman he cannot pay. He is then loaded into a police wagon and carted off. At 9:02 we segue into “Police Wagon” supported by a strolling promenade comico as we see the bumbling Charlie riding in the police wagon. At 9:24 Ellen’s Theme on saxophone sounds as she is also incarcerated and pushed into the police wagon. We are graced by a sumptuous extended rendering of the Humanity Theme as the two reacquaint. At 10:11 we segue into “Escape” as Ellen and Charlie are thrown from the police wagon. A tender passage of the Humanity Theme supports until she convinces him to flee with her, which he does supported by flight music.

“Dream House” offers a romantic score highlight. It reveals Charlie and Ellen walking down a residential street carried by the iconic aching romanticism of the “Smile” Love Theme. They are smitten and sit down in front of their “dream House”. Chaplin’s message in this scene is clear; cheer up and believe that new and brighter days lie ahead. At 1:02 he asks, could you imagine us in this House, and a fantasy narrative of this dream life unfolds on the screen supported by the Paradise Theme’s idyllic musical narrative of bliss. At 2:30 the fantasy ends and the Love Theme resumes as Ellen wonders if they will ever have a home like that, to which Charlies replies, yes, even if I have to work to obtain it!

“Toy Department” reveals an injured night watchman being taken from a department store with a broken leg. Chaplin supports with a delightful rhapsodic musical narrative. Charlie immediately applies for the job, and is hired. After everyone leaves for the day, he retrieves Ellen outside, takes her to the café and feeds her a wonderful lunch. The rhapsody continues as they have fun playing in the toy department, including roller skating. An interlude leads to idyllic strings at 2:49, which support Charlie skating blind folded. At 3:42 a valzer spensierato enters as Ellen joins in the skating and carries them with grace as they head to the bedroom display. Ellen revels in the luxury until 4:52 when a harp glissando supports Charlie putting her to be with a promise to wake her in the morning. Flowery, idyllic somnolent strings support the tender moment. At 5:11 we segue into “Men in Basement” Chaplin sow tension as we see three men in the basement scurry as Charlie arrive in an elevator. A comedic musical narrative supports his skating until 5:22 when a shrill orchestral scream reveals him surrounded at gunpoint. We descend into slapstick silliness atop strings energico and woodwinds animato as he falls into an escalator and tries to come back as the robber shoots warning shots. At 6:19 we segue into “Girl Sleeping” atop tremolo violins as we see Ellen sleeping. At 6:25 we return downstairs where Charlie is drunk after a rum barrel is shot and its contents flow into his mouth. Drunken woods winds emote a stuporous musical narrative as they prepare to tie Charlie up. Yet at 6:42 the blaring Capitalist Fanfare resounds when Big Bill recognizes his coworker Charlie and introduces him to his boys. We conclude with a silly comedic musical narrative as the men toast and eat, as they only broke in because they were hungry.

“The Next Morning” opens with Ellen’s Theme, which launches a flight theme as she flees out of the store. At 0:19 customers return to the store supported by a delightful rhapsody. At 0:43 sardonic horns declare “How Dry I Am” by Irving Berlin when a customer finding Charlie asleep in a pile of discount clothes. Frantic comedic strings support him dressing as the manager dresses him down. At 1:20 the marcia per la libertà of the Revolution Anthem supports his arrest and escort by the police. Ten days later we segue at 1:31 into “It’s Paradise (The Shack)” atop Ellen’s Theme as she greets him after his release. She runs to him and jumps into his arms carried by the Love Theme. At 2:12 Ellen gleefully takes him to their new home, a dilapidated shack by the harbor supported by the idyllic bliss of the Paradise Theme. Chaplin sow comedy within the musical narrative as one by one a beam, table and roof gable all collapse, followed by a door as he tumbles into the bay! At 3:20 somnolent strings support shots of each sleeping peacefully. At 3:42 dawn breaks and bubbling woodwinds animato carry Charlie prancing to the water’s edge, where he dives into water two feet deep and then hobbles back to his shed stall. Bubbly woodwinds felice support as Ellen prepares breakfast, joined with comedic accents as Charlie prepares to join her. At 4:47 he enters and the blissful Paradise Theme reprises as the lovers sit down and enjoy a breakfast together. At 5:51 we segue into “Factories Reopen” atop the driving mechanistic Assembly Line Theme joined by the Capitalist Fanfare as Charlie reads a newspaper headline that says the Factory has reopened. He rushes off declaring “Work at Last!” propelled by a exuberant musical narrative, which crests at 6:44 atop celebratory horns as he pushes himself through the crowd to be the last man selected.

“The Mechanic” reveals Charlie working with the mechanic to service the long-idled machinery. Chaplin supports with a carefree danza felice, which offers a wonderful musical narrative flow, that juxtaposes the machines, and serves as a backdrop to Chaplin’s silly antics. At 3:46 tuba and silly woodwinds usher in a farcical musical narrative, which supports Charlie’s lunch and buffoonery feeding his mechanic boss who is trapped in the machine cogs. At 6:21 churning strings and mechanistic rhythms support the power up to the massive machine cogs and gears. When the mechanic is freed Charlie shuts down the power and we return to the carefree danza felice. At 7:01 we segue into “On Strike” with sharp orchestral strike which usher in strings grave as a coworker advises that the men are on strike. Strings tristi emote a sad commentary as the men all file out and take to the streets. At 7:19 a dark and threatening musical narrative supports a policeman shoving Charlie three time to leave. At 7:44 shrill horns blast as Charlie steps un a board, which propels a brick that strikes a policeman’s head, which leads to his arrest. At 8:02 we segue into “Hurdy Gurdy” supported by a carnivalesque musical narrative as we see Ellen dancing in the street as people ride a Merry-Go-Round. A café owner notices and hires her to be a dancing girl at his club and we conclude with an ebullient danza gioiosa.

“One Week Later” opens with Ellen’s Theme as she waits outside the jail for Charlie to be released. The Love Theme joins as she runs to him and he takes her into his arms full of happiness. At 0:41 strings felice propel an ebullient musical narrative as Ellen confides that she has a job, and then takes Charlie there to get him a job. Woodwinds comico join when Ellen commits him to waiting tables. At 1:56 the music darkens as we see the police issuing an arrest warrant for Ellen, for vagrancy and escaping the juvenile office. At 2:20 we segue into “Waiting on Tables”, which along with the following cue, offers a wonderful score highlight. Festive strings propel a delightful Rapsodia felice as we see Charlie waiting on tables. At 3:09 we flow seamlessly into “Where’s My Duck?” where a patron complains of waiting an hour for his duck. Charlie retrieves the platter, but as he exits the kitchen at 4:17 we flow into a swirling danza dramatico as the dance floor floods with people and he is swept away in its currents as he tries to reach the angry customer. At 5:21 a new even more festive dance commences and Charlie is again swept away in its currents. While holding the platter high above his head, the duck gets caught in the chandelier. At 5:54 the dance music ends and silly woodwinds comico carry him to the table only to discover the duck is missing. At 6:27 a college football anthem joins as college kids take to the floor, grab the duck and begin passing it like a football. Charlie retrieves it and then in a mad cap frenzy runs and dodges the guys trying to tackle him. Victorious fanfare resounds at 7:13 as he finally gets the duck to the patron, and we close on the football anthem as the boss warns him that he better know how to sing.

“Singing Waiters” reveals a quartet of waiters sings performing on the dance floor. At 0:19 we segue into “In the Evening by the Moonlight” by James Bland, where the quartet sings the wistful song. In the back Ellen tells Charlie to rehearse his song, but he cannot remember the lines, so she writes them on his shirt cuff. At 1:11 the quartet segues into the festive “Come Along, Sister Mary” to conclude their performance. “Nonsense Song (Titine)” offers an superb confluence of music and Chaplin’s comedic genius. The cue is notable as it reveals Charlie Chaplin’s voice being heard by audiences for the first time in his career as he sings the Titine song. We open festively as the band welcomes Charlie, yet as he dances around the floor his shirt cuffs fly off. As he prepares to sing, he realizes that the cuffs/lyrics are missing and begins circling the floor in a dance trying to locate them. As the crowd gets restive, Ellen motions to just start singing and at 0:54 Charlie begins singing ‘Titine” in French gibberish with his comic seductive gestures and facial expressions telling the song’s tale instead, much to the audience’s delight. The three-and-a-half-minute musical number is a delight!

“Charlie and Gamin Exit” opens with a sumptuous romanticism as Charlie lands a full time job as an entertainer. Yet as Ellen goes out to dance the music becomes aggrieved as two detectives arrest her for vagrancy. The café owner and Charlie’s pleas fall on deaf ears. At 1:05 an accelerando commences as Charlie and Ellen successfully foil the arrest and escape. At 141 we segue into “Dawn” atop tremolo violins, harp glissandi and woodwinds pastorale as we see our lovers sitting on the roadside in the countryside. At 2:02 we segue into “Love Theme & End Title”, a romantic score highlight, which offers a heart-warming and life affirming rendering of the Love Theme. Ellen is distraught and crying saying “What is the use to trying?” Charlie replies “Buck up – never say die. We’ll get along!” With that he grabs her and the film concludes with them walking hand in hand to a hopeful future.

I would like to thank Roy Export SAS for their outstanding job restoring and remastering the complete score to Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece, “Modern Times” (Roy Export is the official manager of the Chaplin archives, and owns the copyrights and other relevant rights to all films made by Chaplin from 1918 onwards). The audio quality does not achieve 21st century qualitative standards, yet given the condition of the ¼ inch tapes and 35 mm optical tracks, the sound is very good, the best that could be achieved, and provides a wonderful listening experience. The world has lauded Charlie Chaplin for his comedic genius and mastery of pantomime; however, this score offers an additional testament to his music gift and brilliant musical storytelling. Throughout the film he sustains a buoyant narrative pace and keeps it fresh with ebullient, happy, and energetic music, while capturing the monotony, dehumanization of the mechanized assembly line. The incredible synergy achieved with his comedy, buffoonery and mad cap antics cannot be overstated. It is pure genius. Yet he also gave this story heart and its narrative, which is embodied in the “Smile” Love Theme, counsels us to never give up no matter how often life knocks you down, to cheer up, and always believe that new and brighter days lie ahead. Folks, I consider this a masterpiece of the Golden Age, a contender for Chaplin’s Magnum Opus, and I highly recommend you add this extraordinary score to your collection. I also encourage you to enjoy the score in film context to bear witness to a wondrous cinematic confluence.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a YouTube link to the Finale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnMoTCcc8U4&list=PLyU6zePFLJ-BxEP532GXD-FI5gA8uyLZ8&index=15

Buy the Modern Times soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Opening/Sheep (1:50)
  • Factory Assembly Line (3:25)
  • Lunch Time/Feeding Machine (7:29)
  • Charlie’s Breakdown/Workers’ Strike (Hallelujah I’m a Bum) (6:51)
  • The Gamin/The Father (2:28)
  • Prison (5:32)
  • Trouble/A Free Man/Police Wagon/Escape (11:23)
  • Dream House (Smile) (3:10)
  • Toy Department/Men in Basement/Girl Sleeping (7:27)
  • The Next Morning/It’s Paradise (The Shack)/Factories Reopen (6:49)
  • The Mechanic/On Strike/Hurdy Gurdy (8:58)
  • One Week Later (Smile)/Waiting on Tables/Where’s My Duck? (7:40)
  • Singing Waiters/In the Evening by the Moonlight/Come Along, Sister Mary (1:33)
  • Nonsense Song (Titine) (3:26)
  • Charlie and Gamin Exit/Dawn/Love Theme (Smile) & End Title (3:49)

Running Time: 80 minutes 02 seconds

Roy Export SAS (1936/2020)

Music composed by Charlie Chaplin. Conducted by Alfred Newman. Orchestrations by David Raksin and Edward Powell. Recorded and mixed by XXXX. Score produced by Charlie Chaplin. Album produced by Timothy Brock.

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