The Great Dictator
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"This is the story of the period between two world wars--an interim during which insanity cut loose, liberty took a nose dive, and humanity was kicked around somewhat." With this pithy opening title, Charles Chaplin begins his first all-talking feature film, The Great Dictator. During World War I, a Jewish barber (Chaplin) in the army of Tomania saves the life of high-ranking officer Schultz (Reginald Gardiner). While Schultz survives the conflict unscathed, the barber is stricken with amnesia and bundled off to a hospital. Twenty years pass: Tomania has been taken over by dictator… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The first full-blown talkie from the biggest star of the silent era, complete with a message that Chaplin couldn't have sent more loudly or clearly."
‑ William Goss,
"Like all major Chaplin works, Dictator was a cheaply, but methodically, made film, a cardboard act of humanist defiance, and, thanks to its purity of purpose, the cheesier the jokes get, the harder they land."
‑ Michael Atkinson, Village Voice
"The only trouble is that such perfect scenes as this are followed by more conventional passages which would be funny enough in an average picture but let one down in a film that deals so ambitiously with so great a theme."
‑ Franz Hoellering, The Nation
"...stared evil in the face long before the rest of Hollywood even thought it was possible."
‑ Chris Barsanti,
"Though the slapstick may seem tired now, there are moments of greatness."
‑ David Parkinson, Empire Magazine
"Through no fault of Chaplin's, during the two years he was at work on the picture dictators became too sinister for comedy."
‑ , TIME Magazine
"It's when he is playing the dictator that the comedian's voice raises the value of the comedy content of the picture to great heights."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"...a great movie because it works as a film, and because it is a document of courage and faith, the prime exhibit in Chaplin's humanist brief ... Dictator is a comedy, the work of a clown, but it is no joke. Chaplin had lethal intent."
‑ Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
"Despite the film's weaknesses, Chaplin's lampooning of Hitler is a moment of comic genius, complemented by Jack Oakie's ridiculously exaggerated portrayal of the Mussolini-like Italian fascist"
‑ Dan Jardine, Cinemania
"So Chaplin may not have halted a war, but he still left us with more than just a funny movie."
‑ Mark Bourne,
"Chaplin is at his most profound in suggesting that there is much of the Tramp in the Dictator, and much of the Dictator in the Tramp."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"The representation of Hitler is vaudeville goonery all the way, but minus the acid wit and inventive energy that Groucho Marx managed."
‑ , Time Out
"While it is not the greatest of Charlie Chaplin's feature films, it is certainly his bravest, if not one of the bravest films ever made."
‑ James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk
"Chaplin's film hasn't aged well, but in 1940 it was perceived to be original, bold and controversial due to its combination of slapstick satire of Hitler and agit-prop."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"Charlie Chaplin's first all-talking feature is a controversial one."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
More reviews for The Great Dictator on Rotten Tomatoes

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