AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Great Dictator
Director: Charles Chaplin (Dir)
Release Date:   7 Mar 1941
Duration (in mins):  127
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Cast: Charles Chaplin  ([Adenoid] Hynkel, Dictator of Tomania)
  Jack Oakie  ([Benzini] Napaloni, Dictator of Bacteria)
  Reginald Gardiner  (Schultz)

Summary: At the end of World War I, an Army private who in civilian life is a little Jewish barber, saves the life of the German officer Schultz as the two flee the conquering army. After their plane crashes during their escape, the Jewish barber suffers amnesia and is confined to a hospital during the rise of dictator Adenoid Hynkel. Years later, the barber returns to his shop in the ghetto of a city, unaware that the state is now under the sign of the double cross, that Jews are cruelly persecuted, and that the all powerful ruler of the land is megalomaniac Adenoid Hynkel, to whom the barber bears a striking resemblance. The barber tries to resist the treachery that he sees going on all around him, but is beaten and arrested with his friend Schultz, who has also spoken out against the persecution of the Jews. Schultz and the barber are sent to a prison camp, and Hynkel, his opposition quelled, plans the invasion of the neighboring country of Osterlich. As Benzini Napaloni, the Dictator of Bacteria, and Hynkel argue over control of Osterlich, Schultz and the barber escape from their prison. On the eve of the invasion of Osterlich, Hynkel is mistaken for the escaped barber and arrested. The barber then takes the place of the dictator on the parade platform and delivers an impassioned plea for human kindness and brotherly love. 

Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.
Production Company: Charles Chaplin Film Corp.
Director: Charles Chaplin (Dir)
  Dan James (Asst dir)
  Wheeler Dryden (Asst dir)
  Bob Meltzer (Asst dir)
Producer: Charles Chaplin (Prod)
Writer: Charles Chaplin (Scr)

Subject Major: Antisemitism
  Mistaken identity
  Mythical lands
Subject Minor: Amnesia
  Barbers and barbershops
  Prison escapes
  Prisoners of war
  World War I

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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