The Great Dictator

The physical resemblance between the Tramp and another famous man with a little black moustache was not lost on Chaplin. In his first all-talking picture, he plays both a Jewish barber and his double, Adenoid Hynkel, the absolute ruler of Tomainia. As Hynkel and his henchmen Herring and Garbitsch engineer the persecution of Jews and the invasion of neighboring Osterlich, the amnesiac barber may be the only person innocent enough to stop them. Spewing Germanic gibberish or dancing a dreamy pas de deux with a globe-balloon, Chaplin exploits the deflating power of parody, while in the finale, he abandons both character and comedy to deliver an impassioned plea for human tolerance. From this remove, the ending has its own discomfiting overtones of megalomania. But the film in its time was a great success, and Chaplin was asked to deliver the climactic speech on national radio.

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