The Great Dictator

Title: The Great Dictator
Year: 1940
Length: 125 minutes
Director: Charles Chaplin
Writer: Charles Chaplin
Starring: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie
Music: Charles Chaplin, Meredith Willson
Distinctions: Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor (Chaplin), Best Supporting Actor (Oakie) and Best Score; currently #97 on IMDb’s Top 250

My reaction
Synopsis: a Fascist dictator oppresses Jews and hilarity ensues
How I saw it: on video, twice (rented from Netflix), most recently yesterday
Concept: Terrible. I don’t care if they supposedly didn’t know when they made it just how tasteless this is. I’m not about to speculate on what the movie might have been like in 1940; what I’ve got is the movie now: a slapstick comedy about the holocaust.
Story: Bad. At best, just an excuse for gags.
Characters: Indifferent.
Dialog: Good.
Pacing: Indifferent.
Cinematography: Indifferent.
Special effects/design: Good.
Acting: Good.
Music: Good.
Subjective Rating: 4/10 (Eh). I’ve only seen about three Chaplin features so far, but I have no doubt that this is his worst. There are a few very funny bits, and I guess it’s worth seeing for those. But there’s also a lot of attempted humor that’s just dull (the train station bit comes to mind). And then there’s, you know, the whole oh-my-god-Nazi-Germany-Jewish-ghettos-are-NOT-funny thing…
Objective Rating: 5/10 2.1/4 (Okay).


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