Charlie Chaplin Does Cocaine and Saves the Day in Modern Times (1936)

When you think of drug movies, flicks like Easy Rider, Drugstore Cowboy and pretty much everything by Cheech and Chong might spring to mind. Add to this list Charlie Chaplin’s masterpiece Modern Times. In the movie, Chaplin’s iconic Little Tramp character does a whole lot of blow and ends up a better man for it. You can see a clip above.

After getting mistaken for a Communist demonstrator, the Tramp is thrown in the clink. In the prison mess hall, a hulking prisoner sitting next to him refuses to let him have any of the communal bread. Meanwhile, the shifty looking guy on the other side of him dumps a bunch of “nose powder” into a saltshaker before getting hauled away by the prison guards. Chaplin sprinkles liberal amounts of this “salt” on his meal and soon he starts showing all of the telltale symptoms of cocaine use – bugged out eyes, excessive energy and unshakeable self-confidence. He also shows some less common side effects like compulsive twirling and a propensity to jam food in his ear.

With his newfound chemical courage, Chaplin not only faces down this thuggish neighbor but he also single-handedly thwarts a prison break. The authorities are so pleased with Chaplin’s coke-addled heroics that they release him. So remember, kids, drugs can get you out of (and more likely back into) jail.

Of course, this wasn’t the first time that Chaplin depicted drug use in his movies. In his classic short Easy Street, Chaplin’s love interest, a virginal pastor’s daughter, gets locked in a basement with a remarkably energetic heroin addict. You can watch it below. And if you’re jonesing for some more Chaplin, there are 65 Free Chaplin Movies you can watch right here.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.