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The Great Dictator


The Great Dictator, starring Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie, Reginald Gardiner, Henry Daniell, Billy Gilbert

The Great Dictator, possibly the most well-known of Charlie Chaplin’s films, was a timely satire on Nazisim and fascism in general, and Adolph Hitler in particular. In it, Charlie Chaplin plays a double role — €” Adenoid Hynkel, autocratic dictator of Tomania who blames the Jewish people for all of society’s ills, and a Jewish Barber who happens to be the spitting image of Hynkel. Contrary to what some people believe, the Jewish Barber was not Chaplin’s world-famous tramp character, although they clearly share some of the same traits. The film is a true classic, with the famous — €œdance with the globe — € where Hynkel dances with an oversized inflated image of the globe, fantasizing about his eventual conquests. The film ends with the famous “Look Up, Hannah” speech which is, perhaps, both verbose and even hokey, but it fits properly and plays well.

I rate it 4 clowns on a 5-clown scale.

Editor’s note: originally published at Famous Clowns, used with permission

Editorial review of The Great Dictator, starring Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jackie Oakie, Billy Gilbert, courtesy of Amazon.com

movie poster for "The Great Dictator" starring Charlie ChaplinSince Adolf Hitler had the audacity to borrow his mustache from the most famous celebrity in the world — €”Charlie Chaplin — €”it meant Hitler was fair game for Chaplin’s comedy. (Strangely, the two men were born within four days of each other.) The Great Dictator, conceived in the late thirties but not released until 1940, when Hitler’s war was raging across Europe, is the film that skewered the tyrant. Chaplin plays both Adenoid Hynkel, the power-mad ruler of Tomania, and a humble Jewish barber suffering under the dictator’s rule. Paulette Goddard, Chaplin’s wife at the time, plays the barber’s beloved; and the rotund comedian Jack Oakie turns in a weirdly accurate burlesque of Mussolini, as a bellowing fellow dictator named Benzino Napaloni, Dictator of Bacteria. Chaplin himself hits one of his highest moments in the amazing sequence where he performs a dance of love with a large inflated globe of the world. Never has the hunger for world domination been more rhapsodically expressed. The slapstick is swift and sharp, but it was not enough for Chaplin. He ends the film with the barber’s six-minute speech calling for peace and prophesying a hopeful future for troubled mankind. Some critics have always felt the monologue was out of place, but the lyricism and sheer humanity of it are still stirring. This was the last appearance of Chaplin’s Little Tramp character, and not coincidentally it was his first all-talking picture. — €“Robert Horton — €“This text refers to the VHS Tape edition.

Funny movie quotes from The Great Dictator

The Great Dictator - Charlie Chaplin as Adenoid Hynkel, famous globe dance

You can read the final speech from The Great Dictator, known as Look Up, Hannah

Commander Shutlz : Check the gas.
A Jewish Barber (Charlie Chaplin) : I did, it kept me up all night.

Commander Shultz : Strange, and I thought you were an Aryan.
A Jewish Barber (Charlie Chaplin) : No. I’m a vegetarian

International press reporter : The Fooyie has just referred to the Jewish people.

Field Marhsall Herring : We’ve just discovered the best poisonous gas. It will kill everybody.

Commander Shultz: Heil Hynk — €¦ Oh what am I saying?

Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): How wonderful! Tomania, a nation of blue-eyed blondes.
Garbitsch: Why not a blonde Europe, Asia, America?
Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): Blonde world — €¦
Garbitsch: And a brunette dictator.
Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): Dictator of the world!

Commander Shultz: [plane is upside down] We’re upside down!
A Jewish Barber (Charlie Chaplin) : I know it.
Commander Shultz: Give me that stick!
A Jewish Barber (Charlie Chaplin) : Impossible.
Commander Shultz: [engine dies] Oh, there it goes. We’re out of gas. Well, this is it then. [pulls out cigarette pack] Cigarette?
A Jewish Barber (Charlie Chaplin) : Not now.
Commander Shultz: Then I shant need this anymore. [tosses cigarette pack]

Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): Declare war on Napaloni.
Garbitsch: Napaloni?
Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): Yes, Napaloni! [to Field Marshal Herring] Listen, you blockhead. Mobilise every division of the army and the air force. Proceed to Bacteria and attack at once.
Garbitsch: But war will be the end of us.
Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): Do as I tell you.
Garbitsch: Madness.
Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): Shut up!
Garbitsch: Very well. Would you sign this?
Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): Yes, I’ll — €¦ what is it?
Garbitsch: The declaration of war.
Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): Then I’ll sign it. A pen! Und stratz mit ze uldensackt. I’ll sign it! Und stratz mit sei öldensackt, il der, der flutens — €¦ , der — €¦ , der — €¦ , und strippensackt! A pen! I’ll sign it. Napaloni, de grosse peanut, de cheesy ravioli. There!

A Jewish Barber (Charlie Chaplin) : We seem to be defying the laws of gravity.

Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): [Excusing himself from Madame Napaloni’s company on the dance floor upon being summoned by Garbitsch] Madame, your dancing was superb. Excellent. Very good. Good.

Commander Shultz: Can you fly a plane?
A Jewish Barber (Charlie Chaplin) : I can certainly try — €¦

Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): [in the middle of a speech in which he rants in — €œGerman — €] Phooey!

Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): Garbitsch, what’s the meaning of this? These appropriations? 25 million for prison camps when we need every penny for the manufacturing of ammunitions?
Garbitsch: We’ve had to make a few arrests.
Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): A few? How many?
Garbitsch: Nothing astronomical. Five or ten thousand.
Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): Oh.
Garbitsch: A Day.

Adenoid Hynkel (Charlie Chaplin): Schultz, why have you forsaken me?

DVD - The Great Dictator - a film by Charlie Chaplin - the Criterion CollectionTrivia about The Great Dictator:

  • Charlie Chaplin got the idea when a friend, Alexander Korda, noted that his screen persona and Adolf Hitler looked somewhat similar. Chaplin later learned they were both born within a week of each other, roughly the same height and weight and both struggled in poverty until they reached great success in their respective fields. When Chaplin learned of Hitler’s policies of racial oppression and nationalist aggression, he acted this similarity as an inspiration to attack Hitler on film.
  • Charlie Chaplin stated that had he known the true extent of the Nazi atrocities, he — €œcould not have made fun of their homicidal insanity. — €
  • Production on the film started in 1937, when not nearly as many people believed Nazism was a menace as was the case when it was released in 1940.
  • The German spoken by the dictator is complete nonsense. The language in which the shop signs, posters, etc in the — €œJewish — € quarter are written is Esperanto, a language created in 1887 by Dr L.L. Zamenhof, a Polish Jew.
  • When The Great Dictator was released, Hitler had it banned from all occupied countries. Curiosity eventually got the best of him and he had a print brought in through Portugal. He screened it not once, but TWICE! Unfortunately, history did not record his reaction to the film. When told of this, Charlie Chaplin stated, — €œI’d give anything to know what he thought of it. — €
  • Although this movie was banned in all occupied countries by the Nazis, it was screened once to a German audience. In the occupied Balkan, members of a resistance-group switched the reels in a military cinema and replaced a comedic opera by a copy of The Great Dictator which they received from Greece. So a group of German soldiers enjoyed a screening of The Great Dictator. Some left the cinema after they recognized it and some were even reported to shoot at the screen.
  • This was the last movie in which Chaplin used the — €œTramp — €-Outfit, i.e. the bowler hat and the walking cane, but although Chaplin appears to be playing The Tramp once again, that character had actually been retired in his previous film, Modern Times (1936). Chaplin was said not to consider Great Dictator a Tramp film.
  • Released 13 years after the end of the Silent era, this was Chaplin’s first all-talking, all-sound film.
  • According to documentaries on the making of the film, Chaplin began to feel more uncomfortable lampooning Hitler the more he heard of Hitler’s actions in Europe. Ultimately, the invasion of France inspired Chaplin to change the ending of his film to include his famous speech.
  • Color behind-the-scenes footage exists, including the only footage of an aborted ending in which soldiers break into a folk dance.
  • The scene where Chaplin dances with a globe had its origins in a 1928 home movie in which Chaplin also toyed with a globe in similar fashion.
  • In Spain, the film was banned until dictator Francisco Franco died, in 1975.
  • Chaplin said wearing Hynkel’s costume made him feel more aggressive, and those close to him remember him being more difficult to work with on days he was shooting as Hynkel.
  • Chaplin named Paulette Goddard’s character after his mother, Hannah Chaplin.
  • The — €˜Big Bertha’ artillery piece mentioned in the beginning of the film was not actually used to shell Paris, as stated in the film. In fact, the Big Bertha was simply a heavy artillery piece used by the Germans in the beginning of the war to smash Belgian forts during the invasion of Belgium. The large howitzer used to shell Paris by the Germans during WWI was simply called — €œThe Paris Gun — €.
  • Chaplin accepted an invitation to perform the movie’s climactic speech on national radio.
  • This is the first Charlie Chaplin film since Behind the Screen (1916) in which Chaplin plays a character who is actually identified by name. His famous Tramp character was rarely given a name, though he was often referred to as Charlie. The tramp-like barber in this film remains unnamed, but the Dictator is clearly referred to by name.


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