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The Great Dictator (1940)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Drama, War  |  7 March 1941 (USA)
8.5
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 115,631 users  
Reviews: 188 user | 105 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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Top 250 #56 | 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 ...
...
...
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
...
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:

Once again - the whole world laughs! 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

As the premiere approached, Charles Chaplin had good reason to be concerned about his gamble on political commentary. Gallup polls revealed that 96 per cent of Americans opposed U.S. involvement in the war in Europe, and threatening letters from Nazi sympathizers poured into the studio. At one point he even asked a friend with the Longshoreman's Union in New York if they could have some union members present at the opening to prevent a pro-Nazi demonstration. See more »

Goofs

When Hynkel is tearing the medals off of Herring after learning that Napaloni has beaten him to Osterlich, a distant shot shows a remaining striped ribbon on the right side of Herring's jacket. In the subsequent close shot, that ribbon is gone. 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

Referenced in Rabbit of Seville (1950) 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

A politcal satire with an important message
9 January 2001 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

"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 obsorbed 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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