Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Running Time: 125 mins
The Great Dictator is an American film about a twentieth-century, Jew-hating, Aryan-loving, Osterlich-invading dictator named Adenoid Hynkel, along with the story of a lookey-likey Jewish barber who seeks to avoid persecution from the brutal regime.
As you’ve gathered then, this film is a mick-take of Hitler. Now, it might just be me, but during the Second World War (even though America was still neutral in 1940), this is a pretty brave attack on the Nazis and their tyrannical dictator, but you’ve got to admit that it’s still a pretty funny one, with great farce, slapstick and classic scenes and lines, with the only real downside being its overly long running time.
The interesting thing about this film is that, for a Charlie Chaplin movie, it’s at times almost more dramatic than it is comedic. Of course, the entire thing is totally ridiculous, and the characterisations of all your favourites such as Hitler himself, Goering, Goebbels, Mussolini and more are just insane, but this film does also include quite a poignant note about the world at war at the time, emphasised brilliantly in that classic closing speech.
Anyway, the main thing about this whole film is the comedy. It’s a roaringly funny satire with some of the classic Chaplin elements mixed together with hilarious political commentary and audacious attacks on some of the most dangerous men of all time.
However, the one thing that I think probably sets this apart from most Chaplin films is that, despite being a satire, it’s going to last the test of time pretty well. The others, mostly being silent, I think are going to struggle to really be forever funny, but this, with even the most basic understanding of the political landscape at the beginning of the Second World War, can always be hugely hilarious.
There’s only one problem that did have an impact on how consistently funny this film felt. Of course, with its latter stages becoming ever more dramatic, the laughs die down a bit, but the fact that it’s a two-hour-plus long film really does make it feel a bit of a drag to watch, when your main source of laughs are short, punchy, farcical gags that definitely don’t need so much dragging out, so that’s why this film gets a 7.7 from me.