By Steve Crum
RELEASED IN 1936, CHARLIE CHAPLIN'S MODERN TIMES was one of the few comedies to thematically deal with the ongoing Great Depression. Laden with socio-political references to assembly line industry, anarchy, unionism (or lack thereof), homelessness, love, and even drugs (the white powder being consumed in the prison sequence ain't supposed to be C&H sugar), Modern Times was controversial, bittersweet, knee slap hilarious, heartbreaking, incisive, and...well...Chaplin. The film was released nearly 10 years after sound came to motion pictures, yet director, writer, composer, star Chaplin made this one mostly silent, except for recorded music and sound effects. There is sparse dialogue, but at least movie audiences got to hear Chaplin's voice as he briefly sang.