Best Movies by Farr

The Great Dictator

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What's it About

Roused from a 20-year bout of amnesia, a nameless Jewish barber (Chaplin) returns from the frontlines of World War I to discover that Tomania's new leader, a dictator named Adenoid Hynkel (Chaplin again), is targeting all Jews for persecution. As the tyrant bears down on the ghetto where he lives and works, the barber's friend Hannah (Goddard) is forced to flee, his shop is torched, and the barber himself is somehow mistaken for Hynkel.

Why we love it

In his first-ever talkie, writer-director Chaplin ferociously lampooned the sadistic politics and fiery rhetoric of Hitler, juxtaposing his mustachioed Little Tramp character with Der Fuhrer himself, whose unintelligible rantings Chaplin plays to hilarious effect. The most political of Chaplin's films, "Dictator" combines slapstick humor and vicious parody; in particular, portly actor Jack Oakie's Mussolini-like incarnation of Napaloni, dictator of Bacteria, is pure genius. Notably, Chaplin's pointed criticism of the Nazis occurred before Hollywood at large was daring to follow suit. (Most brilliant sequence: Hynkel's sublime dance with a balloon-like globe.)

BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"