The Great Dictator

on March 07, 1941 by BOXOFFICE Staff
Classic Reviews Any Chaplin film is an important film; "The Great Dictator" is his first in almost five years. This effort, uneven as it is and punctuated by many stretches which are tame as compared with the high comedy points brilliantly established, nevertheless is an attraction of a very superior grade. It tells two stories. One is exemplified by Adenoid Hynkel, dictator of Tomania; the other by the Jewish barber. Chaplin, of course, plays both men whose paths cross at the finish in a mistaken identity ruse. It is then that the barber, mistaken for the dictator, delivers an impassioned appeal for the downfall of dictatorship and the return to democracy. It's out of keeping with the rest of the Chaplinesque treatment, although undeniably effective. Charlie is superb, and again the artist to his fingertips.

From any and all angles, the keynote is Charlie Chaplin, his return to the screen after an absence of almost five years in his first picture since "Modern Times." These are the elements which rate precedence over all others. Make certain further to keynote "The Great Dictator" as a comedy, loaded with typical Chaplin treatment, and make much of the fact that Charlie talks for the first time. Whether to center on Chaplin, as the tramp, or on Chaplin, as the dictator, ought to be carefully scrutinized on the basis of earlier experiences with films dealing with totalitarian ideas; probably, the former slant will be the one to hit upon. Stress the laugh content which is high.

Chaplin is back in his first picture in almost five years. United Artists 129 mins.

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