The Great Dictator (United Artists) (1940)

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While Chaplin Works Secrecy Necessary to Safeguard Gags and Comedy Situations; Most Comedians Do It Newspaper men—and others— so often ask, “Why doesn’t Chaplin allow visitors on his sets?” As a matter of fact, he does— but very seldom. Anyone familiar with the basis of comedy knows that it is built on what is called in the profession “gag situations.” While of course all good comedies must have a story, the pictures rely mainly on funny situations—some of which are so closely interwoven with the story itself as to be inseparable. All prominent picture comedians work on closed sets. Harold Lloyd and the Marx Brothers, in particu¬ lar, are adamant about this. Were outsiders allowed to view the pic¬ ture in shooting, naturally the situations would not only be dis¬ closed, thus ruining the denoue¬ ment, but alas! too often in Holly¬ wood gags are not only talked over, but in polite parlance, “lifted” —oftimes unintentionally. Comedy Not For Sale In the case of a Chaplin picture which by its very nature and man¬ ner of production with Charlie writing, supervising, directing and starring in it, takes longer, than other comedians’ pictures to be released, a funny situation that he may have painstakingly labored over for weeks can be appropriated by someone else, or—just as injuri¬ ous to the picture—be revealed. So on days when Charlie is doing “straight story” telling, visitors are allowed. But at other times, in keeping with his policy, the set is 'dosed to all but the principals and staff working on his picture. Whether the “master of comedy,” as Charlie is called, is right in his attitude, can be seen when “The Great Dictator,” released by United Artists, comes to the . Theatre beginning a run on. In this new comedy, Charlie’s lead¬ ing lady is Paulette Goddard, and other featured players include Jack Oakie, Billy Gilbert, Henry Daniell, Maurice Moscovich and Emma Dunn. In “The Great Dictator,” Charlie has aimed in his own inimitable, subtle way to bring home to all of us the ridiculousness of pomp, the emptiness of personal ego, the il¬ lusions of fame. And he does it with the greatest weapons known to man—and as only Chaplin can wield them—laughs! Billy Gilbert as “Herring” in “The Great Dictator.” 18A —One Col. Scene (Mat .15; Cut .25) Billy Gilbert Is Not Typed Now Billy Gilbert, playing the impor¬ tant role of “Herring,” one of Hynkel’s chief aides in Charlie Chaplin’s newest comedy, “The Great Dictator,” now showing at the . Theatre, is too well known to movie audiences to need much of an introduction. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1894, of professional parents, practically his entire lifetime has been spent on the stage and in pictures. On the New York stage he was featured in many plays and revues and came to Hollywood in one of the latter. Hal Roach immediately placed him under long term con¬ tract where he was featured in a series of comedies, after which he signed with R.K.O. for another long term period. Feeling he was being typed, he decided to free lance, and for some time has been in great demand by all the studios. f Charlie Chaplin, the world’s most brilliant comedian, is obviously in trouble in this dramatic scene which is unreeled in “The Great Dictator,” Charlie’s great new comedy which United Artists will release at the.Theatre on.. 10 B—Two Col. Scene (Mat .30; Cut .50) Rules as King Clown Charlie’s Own Three-Ring Circus Is Brought To The Screen In Full Panoply In the three-ring circus that Charlie Chaplin brings to the screen in “The Great Dictator,” there are many events that would constitute news in any language. Charlie has wandered far and looked deep into the heart for his laughter. Where he got the Oceana Roll in “The Gold Rush,” the pantomimed David and Goliath sermon in “The Pilgrim” or the corn-feeding ordeal in “Modern Times,” no one knows. They have the smell and the flavor of humankind. In the long catalogue of surprises and comedy inventions of “The Great Dictator,” Chaplin perpetrates a masterful trav- Sportswoman Paulette Goddard, the lovely brunette who is appearing as “Han¬ nah,” Charlie Chaplin’s leading lady in “The Great Dictator,” the new comedy now showng at the .Theatre, has a reputation for being a first-rate sportswoman that is not exaggerated. She ex¬ cels in swimming, tennis, golf, horseback riding, fishing, skiing and aquaplaning. Also, she is an expert knitter. ^ Famous Sons The late Maurice Moscovich, who is seen as “Mr. Jaeckel” in Charlie Chaplin’s latest comedy, “The Great Dictator,” slated to begin a run at the . Theatre on . through United Artists release, was survived by two sons who have gained fame on their own merits. One is Noel Madi¬ son, well known on the London stage as well as in the writing field, while Anton Maaskoff is a re¬ nowned violinist. “The Great Dic¬ tator” was written, produced and directed by Chaplin himself and is his biggest and funniest comedy to date. • Tributes to Charlie George Bernard Shaw has called Charlie Chaplin “the only genius in motion pictures.” And during pro¬ duction of Charlie’s latest and greatest comedy, “The Great Dicta¬ tor,” now at the.Theatre, apropos of United Artists’ having signed the well known Gabriel Pas¬ cal as a producer, sent Charlie the following wire: “Congratulate United Artists on having captured Pascal, the only man living, except yourself, who knows as much about filming as I do.” The last, of course, is part of the proverbial Shavian touch. Alexander Woollcott, noted author and commentator, has said of Charlie — “His like has not passed this way before, and we shall not see his like again.” • Fun for All On Charlie Chaplin sets there isn’t the hard and fast rule of “all work and no play,” especially when there are large crowds of people. An indefatigable worker himself, Charlie believes there is a psycholo¬ gy in getting fun out of the job as was evidenced during produc¬ tion of his latest comedy, “The Great Dictator,” which starts an engagement at the . Theatre on . Charlie’s formula com¬ bines politeness, calm and plenty of fun for his actors to provide the necessary relaxation between “takes.” Paulette's Frock An interesting sidelight on how Charlie Chaplin works was brought out during production of his latest comedy, “The Great Dictator,” now showing at the . Theatre. He was describing a dress he want¬ ed the wardrobe mistress to make for Paulette Goddard, who again appears as his leading lady. First he sketched a dress that to the casual observer would seem like a thousand and one others. Then he began weaving a tale in prose and pantomime that had his listeners spellbound. “It must be a work of art—something with thought and a soul behind it.” His eyes lighted as his enthusiasm grew. “And then I want a patch,” he continued, “not just an ordinary patch, but the most beautiful one in the world.” • A Star's Life Charlie Chaplin’s press depart¬ ment is always flooded with mail and phone calls from people from all walks of life. During production of his latest comedy, “The Great Dictator,” which is currently on view at the . Theatre, he was asked to endorse a popular new breakfast food, was asked for a picture of his bed to illustrate an article, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown!” and was re¬ quested to write numerous prefaces for books and articles. Also, he was invited to lend his name to the support of economic, cultural and civic movements always springing up about the country, address audi¬ ences at universities and clubs, donate cups and prizes at promi¬ nent golf and tennis tournaments and others too numerous to mention. esty on an easily recognized ruler. But more than that, it is Chaplin, the timid little man, looking at power, warily eyeing the big shot. It is the ancient privilege of clowns. The beloved little figure with his derby, his tiny mustache, his floppy trousers and elongated shoes (all somewhat modified for the sake of realism in “The Great Dictator”) has been a pioneer, a creator and an inventor. He still is in the new story he tells on the screen. Charlie is the quiet little man who wants to be left alone in the ghetto. In his barber shop, he strives almost pathetically to please. He speaks, but in fright¬ ened monosyllables. He just wants to be left alone. And then he is Hynkel, the rag¬ ing, neurotic dictator. He raves and rants and emits the most violent of guttural explosives. These guttur¬ als, incidentally, will speak a new language—part English, part jar¬ gon, something of a development from the double talk French music hall Chanson sung by Charlie in “Modern Times.” The inherent absurdity of pomp and circumstance (the core, in varying degrees, of all Chaplin humor) reaches its fullest and most natural expansion in the scenes be¬ tween the dictator Hynkel and his nearest rival, Napaloni, played with bettling brow and outthrust jaw by Signor Jack Oakie. Many Magnificent Sets Chaplin has of necessity sur¬ rounded his big men with big sets and a great production. “The Great Dictator” lends itself—even de¬ mands—a lavish hand in its stag¬ ing. There is the richly caparisoned chancellery of the dictator, the rail¬ way station at which a tumultuous reception is accorded the arriving ruler, streets lined with cheering throngs, a gala state banquet and a glittering formal ball; and, for the opening shot, a World War I battlefront in which the camera travels 425 feet, one of the longest shots on record. Contrasted to these are the purlieus of the ghetto, the humble shop and the courtyards where the little people gather of an evening to talk and to listen to simple peasant tunes. The cast in “The Great Dictator” commands attention, much more attention than in any previous Chaplin picture. Paulette Goddard is at the head of the cast and has by far the most important and the most interesting role. Charlie is of course a teacher. A patient and devoted attention to her histrionics from the master of pantomime has borne fruit in Paul¬ ette, for in “The Great Dictator,” she is called upon to carry the bur¬ den of the ghetto story; it is she through whom the little people cry out, and it is in Paulette that Charlie has planted the seed of hope for a tomorrow. She is the message of youth, of good cheer. She is more than “a leading lady.” “The Great Dictator” is Charlie all over the place. It is Charles Chaplin the one man production— Chaplin the producer, Chaplin the director, Chaplin the star, Chaplin the composer. The film bears the unmistakable imprint of his indi¬ vidual genius. But despite this, there has never been a picture so varied in its moods and so diversi¬ fied in its setting. Never has a pic¬ ture projected so much that is new and unexpected (even in the use of the sound and dialogue which Chaplin has always disdained). But, above everything else, it is Charlie, the little man, laughing at his fellow man—laughing long, loud and hearty. It is healthy to laugh, Charlie says. FROM BARBER TO BARBARIAN. It’s Charlie Chaplin, playing sharply contrasting roles—first a pathetic little ghetto barber, then a bombastic, bomb-exploding dictator in “The Great Dictator,” his latest and greatest three-ring-circus comedy now showing at the .... Theatre. 4 B—Two Col. Scene (Mat .30; Cut .50) Page Twenty-one