FILM 1456: MODERN TIMES
TRIVIA: Discounting later parodies and novelty films, this was the last major American film to make use of silent film conventions such as title cards for dialogue. The very last dialogue title card of this film (and thus, it can be said, the entire silent era) belongs to The Tramp, who says "Buck up - never say die! We'll get along."
Charles Chaplin allows the Tramp to speak on camera for the first time during the restaurant scene, but insisted that what the Tramp says be universal. Therefore, the song the Tramp sings is in gibberish, but it is possible to follow the story he tells by watching his hand gestures.
This was one of the films which, because of its political sentiments, convinced the House Un-American Activities Committee that Charles Chaplin was a Communist, a charge he adamantly denied.
Charles Chaplin devoted eight days to filming the department store roller-skating scene where he skates blindfolded on the edge of the fourth floor, coming within inches of falling over the edge into the deep stairwell below. The dangerous large drop was actually a painted scene on a pane of glass carefully placed in front of the camera to align with the existing set and create the illusion of great height.
A full dialogue script was written for the film, as Charles Chaplin had intended to make a complete talkie. According to a documentary on the DVD release, Chaplin went so far as to film a scene with full dialogue before deciding instead to make a partial talkie.
According to some accounts, working together on the film put a strain on Charles Chaplin and Paulette Goddard's relationship. Contrary to the way young actresses were presented on screen, Paulette was to wear shabby clothing and no make-up as the Gamin. When she showed up for filming with her hair beautifully coiffed, he dumped a bucket of water over her head.
Although filmmaking had become the province of large teams of highly specialized technicians, Charles Chaplin resisted delegating tasks, involving himself in every aspect of production, even to the point of blowing bubbles in a pail of water to simulate stomach-grumbling sounds.