Charlie Chaplin could talk! Who knew?
Yes, this 1940 masterpiece shows Chaplin in all his verbal glory. In fact, the film’s closing speech left me… well… speechless myself. I’d love to quote the whole thing to you but I’m afraid you’re just going to have to watch the entire film to the very end to see what I am talking about. After all, that’s where the true joy of this film lies and I’d hate to steal it from you before you’ve even seen it! Let’s just put it this way – he gives Churchill, Martin X and all the other great historical orators a run for their gut-stirring money.
So… while we’re waiting for you to get around to watching it yourself, I’ll mention a couple of other things…
Most of those who know me will know I love a good slapstick routine, and when voice (and therefore “dad” jokes) are involved, so much the better! I mean, my all-time favourite comedians include The Mighty Boosh’s Howard & Vince, Lano & Woodley and Abbott & Costello. Ernie & Bert were my favourite Sesame Street characters… there is clearly a trend here. I love my comedy double acts and I love it even more when someone cops a pie (or a 2×4) in the face. Call me old-fashioned if you must, but that’s just how I lol.
The best thing about Charlie Chaplin, however, is that in any comedy double act he can play both the comic and the straight man. It’s a feat accomplished by few others and it’s a feat worthy of the highest comedic respect.
He deals with some seriously dark… matter… as well. In 1940 I can only imagine that fooling around with a warhead, playing silly-buggers with an anti-aircraft gun, and losing a hand grenade down ones pants were somewhat taboo topics – but he went there, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one laughing.
Commander Shutz: How’s the gas?
A Jewish barber: Terrible, it kept me awake all night.
In many ways, this film reminded me of ‘Team America: World Police’, and if you can speak “durka durka” then you’ll LOVE Hynkel’s “sauerkraut strudel”.
Despite being a “talkie”, however, there is still plenty of visual comedy for the classics among us. I literally lol’d at the Hitler-esque Chaplin stumbling across a carpeted floor, and the ‘Thinker of Tomorrow’ is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gem. Who else but Chaplin could make a wartime hanging of a Jewish barber the subject of a giggle? Only someone who could pair: slapstick frying pan antics with Gestapo arrests; Hitler with snorting kissing sounds; and global domination with bum-dancing. I’m not entirely sure anyone else like that has ever existed, or WILL ever, exist. Trey Parker and Matt Stone give it a red hot go and Sacha Baron Cohen gets mighty close. Broadway’s ‘Springtime for Hitler’ (à la ‘The Producers’) even takes its place in the (chorus) line… but for a girl who lives for quality quotes and jokes of the lowest order, ‘The Great Dictator’ has shown me no modern equal.
Commander Shutz: Strange, and I thought you were an Aryan.
A Jewish barber: No. I’m a vegetarian
Hitler and Chaplin were a natural match from the moustachioed beginning, and if it weren’t for the extraneous love story, I would have given it an era-acknowledging 10.
Have you seen ‘The Great Dictator’? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.