THE GREAT DICTATOR – Bringing a Voice To the Silent

Charlie Chaplin’s THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940) is one of my favorite films of all time. This has little to do with the distinction of being his first full fledged “talkie,” and more to do with its audacity in having the gall to satirize Adolph Hitler during his rise to power. The film came about a year after the start of WWII, and a year before the Pearl Harbor attack, when the U.S. finally deigned to dirty it’s hands in the matter. But production started before all that in 1938, the year that Germany annexed Austria. This was a year before the start of WWII and during a period when American censors and businessman were still either defending Hitler, or at least adamantly insisting that nobody piss him off. Even United Artists, the production company that Chaplin co-founded urged him to avoid the subject, worried about Hays Code censors and the possibility that the film would never be allowed in theaters.

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