“It will be funny a thousand years from now,” Woody Allen has said about the work of silent-film pioneer Charlie Chaplin. Indeed, you don’t need to understand the language to know when a pratfall is funny. Silent Clowns is a new film series of screenings and discussions that explores how Chaplin’s physical comedy influenced future comedians in film. It starts tonight with Modern Times, Chaplin’s 1936 Depression-era masterpiece starring the Little Tramp as a factory worker driven crazy by his monotonous work on the assembly line. After the screening, Saul Austerlitz, author of Another Fine Mess, will discuss Chaplin’s work. Upcoming movies in the series are Jerry Lewis’s The Bellboy (March 29), Peter Sellers’s The Party (April 7), and Woody Allen’s Zelig (May 3).

Tue., March 8, 7:30 p.m., 2011

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