The Dictator Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Godard (who is the bomb)
The Great Dictator is a comedy film directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. First released in October 1940, it was Chaplin's first true talking picture, and more importantly was the only major film of its period to bitterly satirise Nazism and Adolf Hitler.
The film is unusual for its period, as the United States was still formally at peace with Nazi Germany. Chaplin's film advanced a stirring, controversial condemnation of Hitler, fascism, antisemitism, and the Nazis, the latter of whom he excoriates in the film as "machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts".
The film stars Chaplin as Hynkel and the barber, Paulette Goddard as Hannah, Jack Oakie as Napaloni, Reginald Gardiner as Schultz, Henry Daniell as Garbitsch and Billy Gilbert
as Field Marshal Herring, an incompetent adviser to Hynkel. Chaplin
stars in a double role as the Jewish barber and the fascist dictator
(or "Phooey", parodying "Führer") clearly modeled on Adolf Hitler.
The names of the aides of Adenoid Hynkel are parodies of those of
Hitler's. Garbitsch (pronounced "garbage"), the right hand man of
Hynkel, is a parody of Joseph Goebbels, and Field Marshal Herring was modeled after the Luftwaffe chief, Hermann Göring. The "Dig-a-ditchy" of Bacteria, Benzino Napaloni, was modeled after Italy's Il Duce, Benito Mussolini. Benzino is played with arrogant buffoonery by Jack Oakie.
Much of the film is taken up by Hynkel and Napaloni arguing over the
fate of Osterlich (Austria). Originally, Mussolini was opposed to the
German takeover since he saw Austria as a buffer-state between Germany
and Italy. The international community (in particular, France and Britain, Mussolini's Stresa front partners) did not share Italy's concern over German annexation of Austria and even supported League of Nations sanctions against Italy. In 1936, Mussolini submitted to Hitler's will, withdrew Italian troops from the Brenner Pass
along the Austrian border, and moved closer to Germany, as Hitler did
not apply sanctions against Italy. This conflict is almost forgotten
today given Italy's alliance with the German Third Reich during World War II.
The film contains several of Chaplin's most famous sequences. The
rally speech by Hynkel, delivered in German-sounding gibberish, is a
caricature of Hitler's oratory style, which Chaplin studied carefully
in newsreels. The German words schnitzel, sauerkraut and liverwurst can be made out, as well as "Katzenjammer Kids"
and English phrases such as "cheese'n'crackers" and frequently "lager
beer", in the fake German Hynkel speaks during the rally and at other
points in the film when he is angry (though he normally speaks
English). Billy Gilbert as Herring is also required to improvise this
fake German at times, and at one point (where he is apologizing for
having accidentally knocked Hynkel down the stairs) he comes up with
the word "banana".
Chaplin is clearly taken by surprise and repeats, "Der banana?" before
incorporating the word into his own reply. Chaplin, as Hynkel, has a
tendency to remove Herring's medals when he gets angry. In the scene
where Hynkel receives news that Napaloni mobilized his troops along the
Osterlich border, Hynkel not only removed all of Herring's medals, but
removed all of his buttons on his shirt, revealing a striped shirt with
suspenders and then slaps Herring.
Chaplin, as the barber, shaves a customer in tune with a radio broadcast of Johannes Brahms's Hungarian Dance No. 5, recorded in one continuous take. The film's most celebrated sequence is the ballet dance between Hynkel and a balloon globe in his palatial office, set to Richard Wagner's Lohengrin Overture,
which is also used at the end of the film when the Jewish barber is
making the victory speech in Hynkel's place. The globe dance had its
origins in the late 1920s, when Chaplin was filmed at a Hollywood party doing an early version of the dance, with a globe and a Prussian military helmet (this footage appears in the documentary Unknown Chaplin).
The film ends with the barber, having been mistaken for the
dictator, delivering an address in front of a large audience and over
the radio to the nation, following the Tomainian take-over of Osterlich
(an obvious reference to the German Anschluss of Austria on March 12, 1938). The address is widely interpreted as an out-of-character personal plea from Chaplin.
Some of the signs in the shop windows of the ghettoized Jewish population in the film are written in Esperanto, a language which Hitler condemned as a Jewish plot to internationalize and destroy German culture.
The film is for A-jad and O-jad.
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