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
This movie was Charles Chaplin's biggest-ever box-office hit, grossing about $5 million (in U.S. dollars) at the time. See more »
(at around 42 mins) When Hynkel opens the filing cabinet behind his desk to reveal and look into the full length mirrors inside of it, the studio lights can briefly be seen reflected in them. See more »
Note, any resemblance between Hynkle the Dictator and the Jewish Barber is purely co-incidental.
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.
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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 »
"The Great Dictator" (United Artists, 1940), became the long awaited talking debut of silent film comedian, Charlie Chaplin (who also wrote and directed), in a political satire on Adolph Hitler, only the way Chaplin dared to do at the time. He plays a Jewish barber and Hynkel, dictator of Tomania. Some of the humor cannot really be absorbed at first glance, but after repeated viewing, it gets better. My personal classic moment occurs with Chaplin in the barber shop working on a bald-headed customer by giving him a shave while listening to a classical composition on the radio, never missing a beat. Co-starring opposite Chaplin for the second and final time is Paulette Goddard as Hannah. Goddard became the only Chaplin leading lady to ever make a success on her own while the others just drifted to "B" movies or faded away. Jack Oakie as Napaloni, the Dictator of Bacteria (a spoof on Mussolini), appears late in the story but shares with Chaplin some of its brilliant comedic moments. Both Chaplin and Oakie earned Academy Award nominations for their performances (Chaplin for Best Actor/Oakie for Best Supporting Actor), but no wins. Henry Daniell as Garbitsch and Reginald Gardiner as Schultz also share the spotlight. Aside from Chaplin's screenplay in poking fun of its then current issues on European invasion by the Nazis, "The Great Dictator" expertly blends satire with dramatic overtones. Its closing scene in which Chaplin makes a speech pleading for all people to follow the path of peace, brotherhood and democracy, is not to be missed. Whether this movie is above or beyond the Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup" (Paramount, 1933) is anyone's matter of taste. (***)
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