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The Great Dictator

The Great Dictator is a 1940 film which is Charlie Chaplin's spoof on Nazism. It tells the story of a poor Jewish barber and World War I veteran who looks surprisingly like the dictator of his country, Adenoid Hynkel, and uses the similarity to help his people, his country, and the world. It stars Chaplin, Jack Oakie[?], Reginald Gardiner[?], Henry Daniell[?] and Billy Gilbert[?]. Chaplin stars in a double role as the Jewish barber and the fascist dictator, clearly modeled on Adolf Hitler. The film contains the famous scene where Chaplin (as the dictator) is bouncing an inflatable earth dreamily about the room. In another notable sequence, consisting of one uninterrupted take, Chaplin (as the barber) shaves a customer in time to a radio broadcast of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody.

The film was written and directed by Chaplin. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Chaplin also received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor, and Oakie for Best Supporting Actor; the film has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

Chaplin originally intended to call the film The Dictator, but received notice from Paramount Pictures that they'd charge him $25,000 for use of the title--they owned the rights to an unrelated novel by Richard Harding Davis[?]. Chaplin balked at the conditions and inserted "Great" into the title. (In France the film is known as Le Dictateur.)

Hitler, who was a great fan of movies, is known to have seen the film twice (records were kept of movies ordered for his personal theater). After the war and the uncovering of the holocaust, Chaplin stated that he would not have been able to make such jokes about the nazi regime had he known about the actual extent of the pogrom.

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