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'Modern Times'

I find some recordings of film scores enjoyable even without the context of what was on the screen while the music was playing. My all-time favorite is Georges Auric's score for "La Belle et la bete," followed by Miklos Rozsa's for "Thief of Bagdad" and "Jungle Book," and William Walton's for "Henry V."

Among the most interesting is Charlie Chaplin's own score for his "Modern Times," and it is now available on a CPO CD with the NDR Radiophilharmonie restored and conducted by Timothy Brock.

What was left in writing and what is heard in the film itself had many differences, slight and great; and Brock describes the problems he encountered in the excellent program notes. But while the music is of great historic interest both as film music and the work of Chaplin, the question remains as to whether it is worth the hearing for those who have no knowledge of the film "Modern Times."

Hearing the score, all 79 minutes of it, I was too aware that all sorts of things were happening on the screen of which I could recall little. The track listings give hints such as "Lunchtime—Charlie's breakdown—Worker's Rally," but while I find the music enjoyable in an abstract sense, I feel that viewing the film first is essential to enjoying it completely.

Mr. Warmth

A brief word about "Mr. Warmth, Don Rickles, The Ultimate Collection" on Time Life DVDs. Ignoring the fact that "ultimate" is meaningless in this context, lovers of The Merchant of Venom (his other nickname) will just adore this boxed set of 8 DVDs.


Four of them contain the two seasons of "CPO Sharkey," the reviews of which you can find on my website, Then there are the two volumes of "The Don Rickles TV Specials," in which Rickles does his thing with guest stars, among whom are John Wayne, Johnny Carson, Michael Caine, Dean Martin, and Carroll O'Connor. He cannot resist making remarks about persons of color's color in a way that would never be tolerated today.

There are some truly funny sketches, mostly those spoofing films of the time. But who can beat John Wayne trying to be a comedian by reading from idiot cards jokes that Hee Haw would reject as too corny?

There are lots of laughs, some of them even in good taste!

Frank Behrens reports on classical and Broadway music as well as recordings of books and plays for the Arts and Entertainment section. Visit for past reviews.