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Great Dictator

The Great Dictator

4.4 9

Cast: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie, Reginald Gardiner


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"This is the story of the period between two world wars--an interim during which insanity cut loose, liberty took a nose dive, and humanity was kicked around somewhat." With this pithy opening title, Charles Chaplin begins his first all-talking feature film, The Great Dictator. During World War I, a Jewish barber (Chaplin) in the army of Tomania saves the life


"This is the story of the period between two world wars--an interim during which insanity cut loose, liberty took a nose dive, and humanity was kicked around somewhat." With this pithy opening title, Charles Chaplin begins his first all-talking feature film, The Great Dictator. During World War I, a Jewish barber (Chaplin) in the army of Tomania saves the life of high-ranking officer Schultz (Reginald Gardiner). While Schultz survives the conflict unscathed, the barber is stricken with amnesia and bundled off to a hospital. Twenty years pass: Tomania has been taken over by dictator Adenoid Hynkel (Chaplin again) and his stooges Garbitsch (Henry Daniell) and Herring (Billy Gilbert). Hynkel despises all Jews and regularly wreaks havoc on the Tomanian Jewish ghetto, where feisty Hannah (Paulette Goddard) lives. Meanwhile, the little barber escapes from the hospital and instinctively heads back to his cobweb-laden ghetto barber shop. Unaware of Hynkel's policy towards Jews (in fact, he's unaware of Hynkel), the barber gets into a slapstick confrontation with a gang of Aryan storm troopers. He is rescued by his old friend Schultz, now one of Hynkel's most loyal officers. Thanks to Schultz's protection, the ghetto receives a brief respite from Hynkel's persecution. The barber sets up shop again, developing a warm platonic relationship with the lovely Hannah. But things take a sorry turn when Hynkel, angered that a Jewish banker has refused to finance his impending war with Austerlitz, begins bearing down again on the Ghetto. Near the end of the film, when the dictator is expected to make another one of his hate-filled, war-mongering speeches, the barber steps up to the microphones...and Charles Chaplin drops character and becomes "himself," delivering an impassioned plea for peace, tolerance, and humanity.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
After a five-year absence from movies, Charles Chaplin took on a dual role in his first full-length talking feature, famous for its comic attack on Nazi Germany (and Adolf Hitler in particular). The script was written before Hitler's invasion of Poland, and Chaplin subsequently noted that, had he known the scope of the evil perpetrated on Europe by the Nazis, he would never have made them the subject of this lampoon. Not as maniacally funny as Chaplin's classic comedies of the 1920s, The Great Dictator has more in common with Chaplin's later films, which were more lyrical in approach and more overt in their socio-political messages. In this case, the proselytising turned out to be prescient, as Hitler would soon prove Chaplin's concerns well-founded. This was one of very few films made in the West before World War II that dared to take on Hitler and Mussolini. Still, many critics found fault with Chaplin's approach, claiming that, by portraying German Nazis and Italian Fascists as schoolyard bullies and buffoons, Chaplin was cheapening the impact of their evil actions on millions of Europeans. Despite these criticisms, Chaplin's lampooning of Hitler is a moment of comic genius, complemented by Jack Oakie's ridiculously exaggerated portrayal of the Mussolini-like Italian fascist (nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor). The Great Dictator is loosely structured, lacking the tight pace and sense of direction of Chaplin's best films: its long-winded concluding speech is the most egregious example. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Chaplin for Best Actor.

Product Details

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[B&W, Full Frame]
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Special Features

Disc One ; New Audio Commentary by Charlie Chaplin Historians Dan Kamin and Hooman Mehran; ; Rerelease Trailer; ; Disc 2; The Tramp and the Dictator (2001), Kevin Brownlow and Michael Kloft's Documentary paralleling the lives of Chaplin and Hitler, including Interviews with Author Ray Bradbury, Director Sidney Lumet, Screenwriter Budd Schulberg; ; Two New Visual Essays, one by Chaplin Archivist Cecilia Cenciarelli and one by Chaplin Biographer Jeffrey Vance; ; Color Production Footage shot by Chaplin's Half-Brother Sydney; ; Barbershop Sequence from Sydney Chaplin's 1921 Film King, Queen, Joker; ; Deleted Barbershop Sequence from Chaplin's 1919 film Sunnyside

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Charles Chaplin Adenoid Hynkel, Dictator of Tomania,Jewish Barber
Paulette Goddard Hannah
Jack Oakie Benzino Napaloni
Reginald Gardiner Schultz
Henry Daniell Garbitsch
Billy Gilbert Herring
Grace Hayle Mme. Napaloni
Maurice Moscovich Mr. Jaeckel
Emma Dunn Mrs. Jaeckel
Bernard Gorcey Mr. Mann
Paul Weigel Mr. Agar
Robert O. Davis Actor
Chester Conklin Actor
Eddie Dunn Actor
Eddie Gribbon Actor
Peter Lynn Actor
Hank Mann Actor
Esther Michelson Actor
Florence Wright Actor
Nita Pike Actor
Carter De Haven Bacterian Ambassador
William Arnold Actor
Henry Bergman Actor

Technical Credits
Charles Chaplin Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Wheeler Dryden Asst. Director
Willard Nico Editor
Russell J. Spencer Art Director
Karl Struss Cinematographer
Roland H. "Rollie" Totheroh Cinematographer
Meredith Willson Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Great Dictator: The Film
1. Opening Credits [2:22]
2. The World War, 1918 [6:01]
3. Behind Enemy Lines [6:07]
4. "Hynkel Party Takes Power!" [9:24]
5. Life in the Ghetto [4:04]
6. The Barber Returns [5:46]
7. "One of My Friends" [3:51]
8. Hynkel Keeps Busy [5:53]
9. "Too Good To Be True" [6:01]
10. "Emperor of the World" [6:41]
11. Barber of the Ghetto [3:46]
12. New Message from Hynkel [5:41]
13. Storm Troopers Return [4:39]
14. Coin in the Pudding [7:02]
15. Out of the Ghetto [8:17]
16. Plans for Osterlich [4:20]
17. Napolian's Visit [9:30]
18. Hynkel's Maneuvers [10:17]
19. "You're Invading Osterlich" [5:56]
20. "The World Awaits Your Word" [9:42]
1. Introductions [2:22]
2. Chaplin's Silent Film World [6:01]
3. Verbal and Visual Puns [6:07]
4. "Fragrant Disrespect" [9:24]
5. Jewish Performers [4:04]
6. Undercranking [5:46]
7. Quick Change of Emotion [3:51]
8. German War Machine [5:53]
9. Charlie and Paulette [6:01]
10. "Caesar or Nothing" [6:41]
11. King, Queen, Joker [3:46]
12. Schultz, the Good German [5:41]
13. Kristallnacht [4:39]
14. The Pudding Sequence [7:02]
15. The Two Dictators [8:17]
16. Billy Gilbert [4:20]
17. Pop Psychology [9:30]
18. Jack Oakie [10:17]
19. "Real-World Violence" [5:56]
20. A Political Spokesman [9:42]
Disc #2 -- Great Dictator: The Supplements
1. Chaplin and Hitler [9:17]
2. The Talking Picture [10:22]
3. The State Versus The Individual [4:44]
4. Anti-Semitism in America [6:05]
5. Stepping Up Production [9:55]
6. Hitler's Blitzkrieg [6:06]
7. "You Must Speak" [8:25]
1. Dancing at the Ball [7:03]
2. Final Speech Sequence, Unused [5:01]
3. Hynkel's Address [2:02]
4. The Barber in the Ghetto [3:31]
5. On the Battlefront [9:10]


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The Great Dictator 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are a Chaplin fan, you probably own this film already on home video. However I highly recommend getting this copy! Along with excellent restoration the bonus material shows recently discovered home movie footage shot by his brother Sydney, IN COLOR. Using silent 8mm color film, we find Chaplin preparing scenes behind the camera as well as shooting scenes you will recognize in film. The color footage truly brings this classic film star even more to life! That alone is reason enough, along with this film being presented on DVD, to purchase this edition. I recommend purchasing the whole collection offered by Warner Brothers.
johnbender More than 1 year ago
come heil or high water,Charles Chaplin is in the fight! And the result is a celebrated classic honored in 2000 as one of the 100 American Comedies! The U.S. was not yet in world war 2 when Chaplin leveled his comedy arsenal at Der Fuher by playing the roles of Hitler-like Adenoid Hynkel and a Jewish barber who is a dead-ringer look-alike for der Nutsie. Puns, sight gags and slapstick abound as Chaplin skewers fasism, balncing his attack with poignant scenes of a ghetto in the clutches of storm-trooping terror. Immortal bits include Hynkel's besotted dance with a globe, the upside-down flight and Hynkel and a Mussolini-like Jackie Oakie madly cranking their barber chairs higher and higher. Great comedy meets great filmmaking passion in The Great Dictator.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Watching this film really shows how much talent some people are blessed with. Chaplin wrote, directed and starred in this flick. It will make you laugh and cry. It will show you how even in times of great pain and distress (The Holocaust). There is still beauty and laughter.
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RaphaelM More than 1 year ago
Ordered, paid and didn't received, not even a refund...dissapointed.