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The Great Dictator

G Released Oct 15, 1940 2h 8m Comedy List
92% Tomatometer 51 Reviews 95% Audience Score 25,000+ Ratings After dedicated service in the Great War, a Jewish barber (Charles Chaplin) spends years in an army hospital recovering from his wounds, unaware of the simultaneous rise of fascist dictator Adenoid Hynkel (also Chaplin) and his anti-Semitic policies. When the barber, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Hynkel, returns to his quiet neighborhood, he is stunned by the brutal changes and recklessly joins a beautiful girl (Paulette Goddard) and her neighbors in rebelling. Read More Read Less

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The Great Dictator

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Critics Consensus

Charlie Chaplin demonstrates that his comedic voice is undiminished by dialogue in this rousing satire of tyranny, which may be more distinguished by its uplifting humanism than its gags.

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Critics Reviews

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William Goss Film.com The first full-blown talkie from the biggest star of the silent era, complete with a message that Chaplin couldn't have sent more loudly or clearly. Jun 1, 2011 Full Review TIME Magazine Through no fault of Chaplin's, during the two years he was at work on the picture dictators became too sinister for comedy. Sep 3, 2010 Full Review Dave Kehr Chicago Reader Chaplin is at his most profound in suggesting that there is much of the Tramp in the Dictator, and much of the Dictator in the Tramp. Sep 3, 2010 Full Review George Orwell Time and Tide What is Chaplin’s peculiar gift? It is his power to stand for a sort of concentrated essence of the common man, for the ineradicable belief in decency that exists in the hearts of ordinary people, at any rate in the West. Oct 2, 2023 Full Review Sean Axmaker Stream on Demand ... confronts the hatred and anti-Semitism of Hitler’s Germany in the days before America’s entry into World War II while lampooning the despots responsible. Aug 19, 2023 Full Review Rob Aldam Backseat Mafia It works wonderfully, but The Great Dictator will perhaps be remembered most fondly for Chaplin’s moving closing speech. Sep 26, 2022 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Peter H Charlie Chaplin, you absolute dawg. This 5’5 lil gangster directed, wrote, produced, and composed the score (not to mention playing both of the main characters) for the single greatest comedic film ever made, and he did it all at a time when Gandhi was still alive. The comedy of this film is beyond brilliant. Blending a dry subtlety with bouts of ferocious slapstick is no easy task, but harder still is tackling such prickly material (especially in his time) with such an exuberance of nuanced confidence that you ground everything in wondrous character work, build your farce upon that storytelling, and then deploy character and conversation driven comedy as the catalyst for the satirical goal. This film is a culmination of everything that comedy ought to be. Phenomenally directed, with a message that (while obviously relevant in all eras) spoke transcendent volumes in 1940, “The Great Dictator” not only features perhaps the greatest monologue in the history of film, but also contains one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen from any actor, ever. Comedy has never been the same. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 06/21/24 Full Review Dani G The first "talkie" from Chaplin. I'll say he nailed it... But the most interesting part is that with all that, the film is worth its status, with just the final speech alone; one that is no comedy at all, one that can apply today. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 05/13/24 Full Review aRandomShyGuy A must-see for classic film enjoyers. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 04/22/24 Full Review Blu B It's crazy to think of a time when winning WWII wasn't a given but also a time when it looked like evil would win by all measures. And despite all that, this was made and still manages to make light of the situation while also being extremely hopeful that dictatorships/facism is just a passing thing in the march forward to good and progress. And the best remedy is to just laugh at how ridiculous it is. Really the only issue the music is really good but not super memorable on it's own or catchy. Everything else is masterfully done. Chaplin's physical acting, playing two characters, and his end speech are just masterful and above all else funny and engaging. It feels like a silent film weaved together with a Lubitsch film. The jokes always get a chuckle or are very clever even though I never laughed hysterically like Airplane type jokes. It's always funny, clever, engaging, and has plenty of gags and visual scenes I haven't ever seen before. All of it is worth it to get to the end speech and man....does it hit hard. As relevant as it was in 1940 and a All Time Classic everyone should watch once. Probably Chaplin's most accessible film as well given it's a talkie too. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 04/02/24 Full Review Lars N As relevant today as ever. And funny too. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 03/24/24 Full Review Alec B It's a little less great than people are willing to admit (a lot of Chaplin's comedic sensibilities at this time were still entrenched in antics that work better in silent movies) but there's so much to admire here and the parody of Nazi Germany holds up remarkably well. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 12/14/23 Full Review Read all reviews
The Great Dictator

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Movie Info

Synopsis After dedicated service in the Great War, a Jewish barber (Charles Chaplin) spends years in an army hospital recovering from his wounds, unaware of the simultaneous rise of fascist dictator Adenoid Hynkel (also Chaplin) and his anti-Semitic policies. When the barber, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Hynkel, returns to his quiet neighborhood, he is stunned by the brutal changes and recklessly joins a beautiful girl (Paulette Goddard) and her neighbors in rebelling.
Director
Charlie Chaplin
Producer
Charlie Chaplin
Screenwriter
Charlie Chaplin
Distributor
United Artists
Production Co
Charles Chaplin Productions
Rating
G
Genre
Comedy
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Oct 15, 1940, Wide
Release Date (Streaming)
May 22, 2017
Runtime
2h 8m
Sound Mix
Mono
Aspect Ratio
Flat (1.37:1)
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