Directed By: Charlie Chaplin and Wheeler Dryden
Produced/Written By: Charlie Chaplin
Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie, Reginald Gardiner
Music By: Charlie Chaplin and Meredith Wilson
Distributed By: United Artists (October 1940)
Budget: $2 million ($30.7 million after inflation)
Runtime: 124 minutes
It’s a silent film with sound. It’s one of the only “talkies” legendary actor/director/comedian Charlie Chaplin made; not that he needed to make another one. I’m no Chaplin expert, and I’m certainly not a cinephile of the silent era, but I know a classic when I see one, and I saw one. The Great Dictator was released towards the end of 1940, before the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, before World War II was truly a world war, and before the true extent of Hitler’s regime’s hatred towards the Jews had been realized publicly. With none of this knowledge in hand, Chaplin set about to criticize one of the most powerful and unstable men in the world.