150. Ben-Hur (B+)
151. Only Angels Have Wings (B)
152. Midnight Cowboy (B-)
153. Holiday (B+)
154. Modern Times (A+)
155. Singin' in the Rain (A)
It was only midway through Singin' in the Rain that I realized what a thematically effective double-bill this unintentionally was. Modern Times
showed Chaplin halfway to waving the flag of surrender to the era of sound, nine years after Singin' in the Rain
This is the third Chaplin film that I've seen (after City Lights
and The Great Dictator
), and it confirms my impression that I simply much prefer sound as a medium. It's not even so much characters that don't talk, as Chaplin doesn't do that here (though he sings some gibberish), and I'm a fan of the films of Kim Ki-Duk, who probably comes the closest to anyone working today to translating the silent film aesthetic into contemporary cinema. Background noise and music is a big thing, though (particularly since Chaplin is a great composer too; the strains of "Smile" at the end are wonderful). In any event, this is, like The Great Dictator
, taking a stab at social relevance, though things are much more buoyant here.
While watching Modern Times
I wondered whether there was ever a film star more in control of his movements than was Chaplin (who was arguably the most talented man to ever set foot in Hollywood; his only rival would be Orson Welles, who nobody would ever describe as dextrous in his movements). Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor certainly make decent cases for themselves here. This is a very fun movie with great comedy and superb musical numbers. The early 1950s seem to have been a strong period for films about making films (and theatre). It falls short of A+ because there are a couple of places where it feels extremely self-indulgent and drags.