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PG The Great Dictator DVD (1940)
Reviewed by Almar Haflidason
updated 22nd September 2003

reviewer's rating
five star


Charles Chaplin

Charles Chaplin

Charles Chaplin
Jack Oakie
Paulette Goddard
Reginald Gardiner
Henry Daniell

125 minutes

Warner Bros (Mk2)


22nd September 2003


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Charlie Chaplin's hysterical but viciously effective swipe at Nazi Germany is a film we nearly never got to see, as this extraordinary two-disc DVD set reveals.

This disc set is available to buy on its own or as part of "The Chaplin Collection: Volume 1" and "The Complete Chaplin Boxset".


Picture Despite the odd bit of print damage, the print used for this transfer is clean and offers good black and white contrast.

Sound The 5.1 sound mix for this film is an achievement to be proud of. Substantial work has gone into creating this. Now, instead of scratchy mono we get bombs flying overhead between speakers in what is a remarkably detailed effort.


The Tramp and the Dictator This new 55-minute documentary on the making of a controversial classic delves deep into the impact "The Great Dictator" had when released. It's lucky the film even got made, as Hollywood turned against it with President Roosevelt stepping in to ensure the production went ahead and the movie got distribution. The British government promised that it would be banned in an effort to appease Hitler. By the time it finally came out, Britain welcomed the film, especially as it was the height of the Blitz. Many other countries, though - including Ireland - banned it from being shown.

If you think that's an interesting story, then this documentary offers much more - including the thoughts of Reinhard Spitzy, who was a member of Hitler's inner circle. What he has to say about how the Nazis saw the movie, the propaganda launched against it, and just what Hitler thought of it makes for illuminating viewing.

Colour Footage Nineteen minutes of colour behind-the-scenes footage on the making of this film were recently discovered in Switzerland. The quality of it is excellent and offers a whole new insight into Chaplin at work.

Charlie the Barber Here's seven minutes of deleted material that was intended for the Chaplin short film "Sunnyside". In it we see the barber character Chaplin would later reprise for "The Great Dictator".

Additional Extra Features Also on this DVD is an extract from "Monsieur Verdoux", a film poster gallery, and a selection of clips from all the films in "The Chaplin Collection".

Chapters: 20
Ratio: 1.33:1 (original fullscreen ratio)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 and 1.0 (mono)
Audio Tracks: English, French and Italian
Subtitles: English and multiple languages
Captions: English, French and Italian
Menus: Static, with music
Special Features Subtitles: All of the special features come with subtitles.

This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-N5 DVD player.

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