Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that beneath the silent film slapstick comedy and the artistry of Chaplin there is a serious political thread that pits the working man against powerful authority figures. So while kids will be thoroughly entertained by sight gags, comic mayhem, and outrageous characters, grownups and teens will see razor-sharp commentary about class differences and the struggle of the poor and middle class. Action is vintage farce -- pratfalls, bumps on the head, man vs. machine, errant gunshots, and car chases. There is one brief but serious moment when a man is killed during a workers' riot. Several scenes show characters smoking and others involve drunkenness. One lengthy sequence finds Chaplin accidentally ingesting smuggled white "nose powder," and behaving erratically afterward. Though most of the film is silent, there are some synchronized sound effects and singing.
Lots of cartoon action and sight gags without any injury or consequence. Characters get bopped on the head, squirted with oil, kicked in the rear, fall in the water, and have portions of buildings fall on them. There are assorted scenes with man battling machines: getting caught in their mechanisms and being hit in the face with the levers and parts. Gun shots go awry; innocents as well as the guilty are chased by police and held at gunpoint by thieves. Several sequences depict striking workers and the poor rioting against the authorities. The only serious violent act occurs when a man lies dead in the street, a victim of a gunshot during rioting. His daughter grieves at the sight of his body.
The word "darkies" is heard in one song lyric.
Made during and set in the Great Depression, the film is clearly a pointed comic study of haves and have-nots and a celebration of resilience in the face of great adversity. The initial frame of the picture announces that it is "a story of industry, of individual enterprise -- humanity crusading in the pursuit of happiness."
Hills Bros., Morton salt.
Drugs / Tobacco /
Chaplin's Little Tramp accidentally gets drunk when alcohol pours out of a barrel; he wobbles and is bleary-eyed. Several athletes appear drunk in a restaurant melee. In a prison scene that was controversial even when the film was made, Chaplin mistakes white "nose powder" for salt, ingests it, and appears to be "under the influence."