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The Great Dictator (1940)

 -  Comedy | Drama | War  -  7 March 1941 (USA)
8.5
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 102,863 users  
Reviews: 185 user | 103 critic

Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel's regime.

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Title: The Great Dictator (1940)

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Top 250 #52 | Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Jack Oakie ...
Napaloni - Dictator of Bacteria
Reginald Gardiner ...
Schultz
...
...
Herring
Grace Hayle ...
Madame Napaloni
Carter DeHaven ...
Bacterian Ambassador (as Carter De Haven)
...
Hannah
Maurice Moscovitch ...
Mr. Jaeckel (as Maurice Moscovich)
Emma Dunn ...
Mrs. Jaeckel
Bernard Gorcey ...
Mr. Mann
Paul Weigel ...
Mr. Agar
Chester Conklin ...
Barber's Customer
Esther Michelson ...
Jewish Woman
Hank Mann ...
Storm Trooper Stealing Fruit
Edit

Storyline

Twenty years after the end of WWI in which the nation of Tomainia was on the losing side, Adenoid Hynkel has risen to power as the ruthless dictator of the country. He believes in a pure Aryan state, and the decimation of the Jews. This situation is unknown to a simple Jewish-Tomainian barber who has since been hospitalized the result of a WWI battle. Upon his release, the barber, who had been suffering from memory loss about the war, is shown the new persecuted life of the Jews by many living in the Jewish ghetto, including a washerwoman named Hannah, with whom he begins a relationship. The barber is ultimately spared such persecution by Commander Schultz, who he saved in that WWI battle. The lives of all Jews in Tomainia are eventually spared with a policy shift by Hynkel himself, who is doing so for ulterior motives. But those motives include a want for world domination, starting with the invasion of neighboring Osterlich, which may be threatened by Benzino Napaloni, the dictator ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Chaplin talks . . while You Laugh ! His greatest comedy since "Shoulder Arms" and "the Gold Rush" ! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

7 March 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Dictator  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At the 1940 Academy Awards, the film got five nominations. It failed to win any Academy Awards, and Charles Chaplin was hurt by this. He already had spent twenty-seven years in Hollywood. James Stewart, the winner of the Best Actor Award (for which Chaplin was nominated), was not even planning on going to the ceremony until someone told him to go there hours before it began. Interestingly enough, this was the first year in which the winners remained secret until the moment they won their Awards. See more »

Goofs

When Hannah has tomatoes thrown at her by the soldiers, she has 3 prominent streaks of dirt on her right cheek as she cowers down to protect herself. When she gets up after the attack, the dirt is missing from her cheek. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Title Cards: Note, any resemblance between Hynkle the Dictator and the Jewish Barber is purely co-incidental.
Title Cards: This is a story of a period between two World Wars - an interim in which Insanity cut loose. Liberty took a nose dive, and Humanity was kicked around somewhat.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film is obviously a satire on Adolf Hitler, represented by Adenoid Hynkel, and its story is based on Hynkel looking exactly like "a Jewish barber": both are played by Charles Chaplin. But it begins with a notice: "Any resemblance between Hynkel the dictator and the Jewish barber is purely co-incidental". See more »

Connections

Featured in Unknown Chaplin: The Happiest Years (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

Hungarian Dance No. 5
(uncredited)
Written by Johannes Brahms
Played on the radio during the shaving scene
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Chaplin's comment on fascism is his first talking film...
14 September 2000 | by (Mexico) – See all my reviews

Hynkel, dictator of Tomania, is a spoiled child who becomes angry when he cannot gets what he really wants... And what he simply wants is nothing less than the world...

In one of the extraordinary scenes of Chaplin art, Hynkel performs a ballet with the 'world' which bursts when he thinks he has it in his grasp...

Chaplin also has some biting words on war and war films... In a scene at the beginning of the movie, which takes place during World War I, the Tomanian messenger crashes the plane and thinks... He is about to die... In a state of delirium, he begins to say ridiculous words... The empty double-talk continue ascending into a brilliant take off on all the heroic death scenes of War films...

In another scene when he becomes a fugitive in the Jewish ghetto and assumes command of the resistance fomenting rebellion among the old men, he plans to kill the dictator... One of the group must kill the ruthless conqueror of Austerlich... Whoever is chosen will naturally die, but his heroic death will be rewarded and his name will shine like a star in Tomanian history...

The sequence in which he and four other characters eat cream cakes containing coins to determine which shall sacrifice his life to murder the dictator is a bitter hilarity filled with great fear...

For all its disappointing shortcomings, "The Great Dictator" is still a significant movie for the ironic tones of the film adding something that neither Chaplin nor anymore else could have given it: the irony of history... The necessity to murder Hynkel presages the assassination attempt against Hitler by his generals... The force of the original satire is only surpassed by history's imitation of art...

With a splendid sequence like the duck-shooting accident which leads to the dictator being mistaken for the humbly Jewish barber and vice versa, "The Great Dictator" is Chaplin's first talking movie... This time 'Charles' and not 'Charlie,' wanting to say more through his movie and not through an amusing comedy, the last in which he uses his celebrated 'Tramp Character.'


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