The Great Dictator - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Great Dictator Reviews

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½ May 17, 2016
A historically important satirical film. Chaplin delivers one of the greatest speeches on the true and loving nature of the human soul. One of the best endings of any film.
Super Reviewer
April 30, 2016
It's a little less great than people are willing to admit (a lot of Chaplin's comedic sensibilities at this time were still entrenched in antics that work better in silent movies) but there's so much to admire here and the parody of Nazi Germany holds up remarkably well.
April 22, 2016
The Great Dictator (1940) ????
Unusual, truly hilarious comedy with Charlie playing both Hitler-like dictator and Jewish barber. Charlie's first talky is a remarkable movie going experience, not just as comedy but as an effective commentary on the wrongness of dictatorship (the ending scene is very unexpected). Still, not quite up to par with MODERN TIMES, CITY LIGHTS, etc.
½ April 22, 2016
One of the funniest opening sequences followed by a highly audacious, extravagant, contemporary and darkly hilarious work of Charlie Chaplin ending with a rousing poignant speech. While playing his run-of-the-mill tramp character with his usual flourish, Chaplin delivered a masterstroke as Hynkel - a mockery of Hitler by generating laughs from the eccentricity and egotistic nature of the character. By making a comedy out of the highly precarious situation of the Jews exactly during the full blown Holocaust might have garnered a reputation for bad taste, but enough care was taken not to hurt feelings and all the angst is directed towards the fascists.

A Jewish Barber (Charles Chaplin) suffers amnesia after getting injured in the war saving a General. The barber remains contained in a hospital staying ignorant to the ascent of a tyrant Hynkel - the eccentric dictator of Tomania (Charles Chaplin again) and the condition of his kind. When he stands up to the harassing fascist soldiers after walking into the turbulent world he earns love of Hannah (Paulette Goddard) but wrath from the fascists saved timely by the General. Meanwhile Hynkel is plotting to invade Osterlich by tricking Napolini, the dictator of Bacteria into pulling back their army.

Charles Chaplin is already a legend in playing the tramp character, but Hynkel was a different ballgame for him. It is a character of aggression, superiority and eccentricity but still clumsy as the tramp. The war sequences, rich palace settings elevates the scale of the movie compared to his previous outing, an equally magnificent 'Modern Times'. Chaplin is a gifted all rounder with a profound writing talent that always portrays the triumph of looking at life in positive outset and a sense of humor. The background score is melodious and rich according the situations. Paulette Goddard looks aged and heavy compared to 'Modern Times' but retains the charm and infective energy she possessed there. The remaining actors and the technical departments do an apt job in putting together this masterpiece.

Audacious, extravagant, contemporary and darkly hilarious
March 24, 2016
great combo of political satire and Chaplin slapstick, and holds up extremely well. Happy I finally got a chance to watch it.
February 7, 2009
Very funny, and considering that it was made before America got involved in WW II, it's pretty ballsy.
½ March 20, 2016
Fascinating on infinite levels. Still poignant and funny (more than its not) after 80+ years. Must see for film students/ filmmakers/ classic film fans
March 4, 2016
One of the greatest comedies/movies ever made. The first talkie by the silent film era God Charlie Chaplin is this spoof of Hitler and Fascist Germany. This movie hits all the right notes, it knows when to be more serious and when to be comedic. And to top it all of, the final scene in the movie is the best movie monologue of all time. Charlie Chaplin's best film
February 27, 2016
An awesome comedy which ends with the greatest speech ever told.
February 4, 2016
Charlie Chaplin's bravery and humor shine throughout the film even when the satire seems drizzle out half way through the second act. Luckily the film has strong finale that is sure to inspire people.
January 30, 2016
I've never seen any of Charlie Chaplin's movies until now, prior to this I've only seen excerpts of his films. There's no doubt who Chaplin is satirizing in this movie. This is considered one of Chaplin's best and I can understand why. Chaplin is very funny as he does his classic comedy routine as a bumbling barber and the narcissistic and self-absorbed dictator. Chaplin's ending impassioned soliloquy which calls for freedom, democracy and respect for all men makes this film quite inspiring.
December 31, 2015
A depiction of hopelessness but a very hopeful movie. Charlie was, no is a brilliant man. Only the unloved and the uncared for hate. Humanity's union is something we need to remind ourselves of. We need to feel more than we think. I've been on that principle instinctively and it shook me just hearing that again. Great fucking movie.
Super Reviewer
½ October 30, 2010
Chaplin's first all-talking picture is this wonderful, hilarious classic that makes a poignant statement against dictatorial regimes with countless memorable moments, from the dictator's speech in incomprehensible German to an unforgettable conclusion.
November 25, 2015
This was a significant piece for a film releasing in 1940.
November 24, 2015
Then, at the time "The Great Dictator" was both a horror and a parody towards the two world wars, but in the end we can still see this as an accurate presentation of todays society with the context that is given.
November 12, 2015
I've long been conflicted by Charlie Chaplin. It is impossible to understate his place in movie history. In a silent era rife with brilliant comics, he stood head and shoulders above the rest. His physical abilities were peerless, even balletic. He was the hugest comedy box office draw in any country his movies were shown. His innovations defined the Art of Film Comedy and moviemaking generally. He was the unquestioned master of his genre; as Tom Stoppard said about Shakespeare, Chaplin was "out in front by a mile, everybody else trying to close the gap."

So why doesn't he make me laugh?

It's not that I'm too jaded for slapstick. I still laugh uproariously at Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton. Chaplin has just never made me laugh that hard. Perhaps he was too copied over the decades. I was familiar with his shtick before I ever saw his actual movies.

That's all forgiven for a movie like The Great Dictator though, because while all the Chaplinesque comedy is there, that's not the point of this movie. In 1940, when there was still enormous resistance to American intervention into the burgeoning war in Europe, when beloved icons like Charles Lindbergh were touting support for how that plucky little guy in Germany was picking that tattered country up by its bootstraps, when there was enough anti-Semitism in America to turn a blind eye to the often disbelieved reports coming out of the Jewish ghettos, Chaplin took a stand in his art when few others in America were. It's hard to believe nowadays that taking a stand against Hitler was once controversial. But it was, and Chaplin did, in no uncertain terms, devoting the full weight of his reputation and genius.

About halfway through this movie, I was no longer concerned that Chaplin wasn't making me laugh. The pressure of laughing at his comedy faded and the scope and artistry of his vision emerged. I wasn't just paying respect to a respected icon. I was in awe of a satiric masterpiece. And by the time Jack Oakie showed up in his faux-Mussolini character, I was genuinely laughing.
November 4, 2015
Famously presents Hitler as a buffoon near the height of his power, "First the Jews, then the Brunettes!" At the time a courageous satire. Would be considered even more of a comedy classic were not the fascist themes he lampoons even more insanely ridiculous in real life and so very much not funny.
½ October 18, 2015
Enjoyable. Worthy of your attention.
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