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“The Great Dictator”: National Film Registry #9

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Obviously no list devoted to great cinema can overlook the contributions of Charlie Chaplin.  Among his greatest films is this one, a brave political send-up from 1940 that was added to the National Film Registry in 1997.

Extraordinarily timely when it came out, and in some ways, still, the silent film scholar Jeffrey Vance said about the intersection of Chaplin with the comedic target of this film:

“Ironically, one of the most beloved men in history was born within four days of one of the most despised—and that the demon, Adolf Hitler, so strongly resembled the clown, Charles Chaplin. Some claim that Hitler deliberately chose his mustache to resemble Chaplin’s, who had enjoyed the love and respect of audiences around the world. Contemporary journalists and cartoonists delighted in pointing out the similarity in appearance between the two men. A song about Hitler, published in Britain in 1938, asked the question, ‘Who is this Man? (Who Looks like Charlie Chaplin).'”

Read the rest of the Vance “The Great Dictator” (PDF) essay.


Title:  “The Great Dictator”

Year of Release:  1940

Year Added to the National Film Registry:  1997  (See all films added to the Registry in 1997.)

Trivia:  Chaplin has many works on the Film Registry including the “The Kid,” “Modern Times” and “City Lights.”  His co-star (and one-time spouse) Paulette Goddard also has two other appearances on the list–co-starring with Chaplin in “Modern Times” and the 1939 comedy “The Women.”

This blog post is number nine of 30 in our” 30 Years of the National Film Registry” series which was launched to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Registry.  The National Film Registry selects 25 films each year showcasing the range and diversity of American film heritage to increase awareness for its preservation.  The 30th National Film Registry selections will be announced on December 12, 2018


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