In this clip from the classic 1936 film Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin is an assembly line worker struggling to live in a society driven by the industrialization of the Machine Age. While on his lunch break, his Tramp character is pressured into being a part of a Billows Feeding Machine demonstration, an automated invention that promises the ultimate in modern efficiency. From the movie:

Don’t stop for lunch: be ahead of your competitor. The Billows Feeding Machine will eliminate the lunch hour, increase your production, and decrease your overhead. Allow us to point out some of the features of this wonderful machine: its beautiful, aerodynamic, streamlined body; its smoothness of action, made silent by our electro-porous metal ball bearings. Let us acquaint you with our automaton soup plate — its compressed-air blower, no breath necessary, no energy required to cool the soup. Notice the revolving plate with the automatic food pusher. Observe our counter-shaft, double-knee-action corn feeder, with its synchro-mesh transmission, which enables you to shift from high to low gear by the mere tip of the tongue. Then there is the hydro-compressed, sterilized mouth wiper: its factors of control insure against spots on the shirt front. These are but a few of the delightful features of the Billows Feeding Machine. Let us demonstrate with one of your workers, for actions speak louder than words. Remember, if you wish to keep ahead of your competitor, you cannot afford to ignore the importance of the Billows Feeding Machine.

Watch these next: Joseph Herscher as The Page Turner and Charlie Chaplin in the lion’s cage.

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Modern Times
Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard
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