There’s no denying that Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator was one of his best-known films. Though Chaplin himself was not a Nazi, his portrayal of the dreaded dictator was highly controversial. The movie’s message was muddled, and it became an instant hit, despite the controversies surrounding it. Chaplin’s films also addressed important social issues of the time, including the Nazi regime.
While working with the Mutual Film Corporation, Chaplin made 14 movies in his first year alone. Chaplin had near creative control, and he produced twelve comedies over the course of 18 months. These films rank among the best comedies in all of cinema history. His leading lady, Edna Purviance, remained the same throughout the films. Other notable performers included Henry Bergman, Eric Campbell, and Albert Austin. Although these actors played secondary roles, they remained with Chaplin for decades.
The most memorable comedy scene in the movie is one in which Charlie Chaplin, as an immigrant, attempts to appear higher class to impress a woman. He tries to win more money by gambling, and gives the woman money to give the impression of wealth. He even attempts to mimic gentlemanly manners while dining at a restaurant, grabbing a knife instead of a fork. This scene is a classic example of the way Chaplin used comedy to promote social change.
The rise of Nazism in Europe shook the world, and Chaplin’s comedic work was no exception. His satire of Mussolini and Hitler was a highly political film, and the audience took note. His films became highly controversial, and Chaplin’s political views were often reflected in controversial speeches he made in his films. During the 1940s, Chaplin supported the opening of the second European front.