The film that dared to laugh at Hitler

Originally published at: The film that dared to laugh at Hitler | Boing Boing

13 Likes
10 Likes
13 Likes

The American film that dared to laugh at Hitler in 1940. By 1942 everyone from Jack Benny to Donald Duck we’re doing it.

Too bad the film itself relied far too heavily on silent film gags/style which were more than a decade out of date by the time it was made.

That being said a classic bit where Ersatz Hitler is playing with an globe like a beach ball was copied by Cobra Commander in an early GI Joe cartoon.

8 Likes

Also, great take on Mussolini. That scene at the hairdresser’s…

7 Likes

Listening to the famous speech at the end (cued up below), a pastiche of Hitler’s style turned to good and morality, I think it must aggravate “free”-market fundies today as much as it irked the fascists back in 1940 (his sentiments certainly weren’t appreciated by the FBI after the war).

15 Likes

Mel Brooks did an updated version of that, too…

16 Likes

I remember seeing this in the movie theatre & how stunning the opening scenes of trench warfare were. Such a great blend of terror & comedy. It’s inspirational to know that Chaplin managed to complete a comedy masterpiece challenging fascism even when UA, who should have supported him, warned against it.

7 Likes

‘A walk down the path of history is crunchy with the crispy corpses of those who pooh-poohed or
ignored the clown car of ridicule when it pulled-up to the curb. Who would have thought such
a tiny car could contain so many infectious and revolutionary guffaws? Satires, parodies, blue humor,
pants to the ground ass-wavings, tea-dumping, Modest Proposal submiting, 7 dirty word spewing,
flag burning, frankly impolite, just plain rude and improper expressions of ridicule have either
ignited reform, fanned the flames or kicked the corpse to make sure it was dead.’
– Stephen Jones

14 Likes

Yeah, because obviously that stuff stopped being funny as soon as sound came in.

11 Likes

Just saw this for the first time last month, its greatness is significantly earned from Chaplin’s anti-fascist motivations in creating it. Also, it’s the source of multiple gags used in Rabbit of Seville.

8 Likes

Nah, it’s just a little jarring. As if still clinging to silent film format. Even physical comedy adapted and changed past the silent era (see Laurel and Hardy)

2 Likes
20 Likes

tumblr_inline_op4pw339jR1rdcvw7_540

26 Likes
12 Likes

You Nazty Spy! - Wikipedia!

5 Likes

A friend convinced his college to let him teach a one-semester course about the portrayal of evil in film. I looked at his syllabus, and it was so relentlessly dark, I suggested throwing The Great Dictator into the middle of it. It took him two months to decide to do it. He taught the course for two semesters, and never had a student who had seen the film before. He said that was the film that separated the kids who thought like scholars from the ones that were just horror buffs looking for an elective.

17 Likes
6 Likes
2 Likes

By the time “To Be or Not to Be” (a great movie) was released, it was safe to mock Hitler. In reading memoirs and histories from the period, in 1939-1941 plenty of mainstream folk were reluctant to “upset Chancellor Hitler.” He was the popular leader of a rich and powerful country with which America had many commercial ties (some of which, as we know, continued even after war was declared). Not to mention the many who, while they’d never have attended a Silver Shirts rally, were inclined to think Hitler himself was kind of over-the-top, but he had some good ideas. Look at the way he made Germany great again! 80 years later most sane people agree that Hitlerism was not a good thing. It’s difficult to realize that at the time public opinion was more complicated.

7 Likes