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The Great Dictator is a 1940 American political satire comedy-drama film written, directed, produced, scored by, and starring British comedian Charlie Chaplin, following the tradition of many of his other films. Having been the only Hollywood filmmaker to continue to make silent films well into the period of sound films, this was Chaplin’s first true sound film.
Chaplin’s film advanced a stirring condemnation of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, fascism, antisemitism, and the Nazis. At the time of its first release, the United States was still formally at peace with Nazi Germany. Chaplin plays both leading roles: a ruthless fascist dictator and a persecuted Jewish barber.
The Great Dictator was popular with audiences, becoming Chaplin’s most commercially successful film.
Modern critics have also praised it as a historically significant film and an important work of satire, and in 1997, it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
The Great Dictator was nominated for five Academy Awards – Outstanding Production, Best Actor, Best Writing (Original Screenplay), Best Supporting Actor for Jack Oakie, and Best Music (Original Score).
In his 1964 autobiography, Chaplin stated that he could not have made the film if he had known about the true extent of the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps at the time.
Directed by Charlie Chaplin
Produced by Charlie Chaplin
Written by Charlie Chaplin
Starring Charlie Chaplin
Music by Charlie Chaplin
Cinematography Karl Struss
Edited by Willard Nico
Charles Chaplin Film Corporation
Distributed by United Artists
October 15, 1940 (New York)
March 7, 1941 (London)
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