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Hollywood and the Great DepressionAmerican Film, Politics and Society in the 1930s$
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Iwan Morgan and Philip John Davies

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748699926

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699926.001.0001

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Chaplin’s Modern Times and the Great Depression: The Reception of the Film in the US, France and Britain

Chaplin’s Modern Times and the Great Depression: The Reception of the Film in the US, France and Britain

Chapter:
(p.239) Chapter 12 Chaplin’s Modern Times and the Great Depression: The Reception of the Film in the US, France and Britain
Source:
Hollywood and the Great Depression
Author(s):

Melvyn Stokes

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699926.003.0013

Chaplin’s Modern Times confronted the effects of the Great Depression in a way unique for its socio-economic realism at the time of its mid-1930s making. In examining reception of the movie in the US, UK and France, this essay debunks notions that Hollywood movies were part of some uni-directional current of ‘Americanisation.’ It suggests instead that the differing national receptions reflected local circumstances and their own social, cultural and political identities and preoccupations. A complex transnational text, Hard Times was made by a Hollywood-based Englishman influenced by ideas developed on his world tour of 1931-32. Chaplin’s ‘Little Tramp,’ making what would prove his last film appearance, could therefore be interpreted with differing national contexts as a victim of industrialisation and the Great Depression, an inadvertent radical, a defender of order, or the ultimate survivor.

Keywords:   Charlie Chaplin, Little Tramp, Modern Times, Great Depression, International reception

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