|Chaplin played dual roles in the film: dictator Adenoid Hynkel & the Jewish barber.|
Chaplin’s first talkie was naturally a highly-anticipated film. But the fact that it was a satire of Hitler, made during the war, also made it highly controversial. In defense of the film, Chaplin said:
“I had to do it. They had their laughs [meaning his earlier films] and it was fun, wasn’t it? Now I wanted them to listen. I did this picture for the Jews of the world. I wanted to see the return of decency and kindness. I’m no communist, but just a human being who wants to see this country a real democracy and freedom from this infernal regimentation which is crawling over the rest of the world.” (Chaplin: The Immortal Tramp, R.J. Minney, 1954)
The Great Dictator became Chaplin’s most financially successful film to date.
|Ad for the world premiere.|
The film premiered simultaneously at the Capitol and Astor theaters. Charlie and Paulette Goddard (who played Hannah) appeared at both. During a speech before the Capitol theater premiere, Chaplin surprised the audience by saying, “My wife, Paulette Goddard, and I hope you enjoy the picture.” It was the first time Chaplin ever publicly referred to Paulette as his wife. In the lobby, he participated in a radio broadcast hosted by Jack Oakie (who played Napaloni in the film) on WHN.
|Photos from the premiere in Picture Post magazine, Dec. 28th, 1940|
|Charlie & Paulette dancing at the Monte Carlo following the premiere.|