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The Great Dictator

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Postby Ollie » February 14th, 2008, 8:28 am

I am not a Chaplin fan and I've wondered if it was because I was fed "The Great Dictator" as my introduction to him. Some of these comments make me remember my first impressions - "waiting to laugh" - exactly.

This is a film that was so over-hyped to me that nothing could have matched such superlatives and, if I recall, those who did the overhyping were correctly dismissed as well. It's not a bad thing to learn about the value of others' judgments! I sometimes wish I was more patient with Chaplin so he wasn't thrown out with the bath-water, too.

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Postby charliechaplinfan » February 14th, 2008, 2:15 pm

The Great Dictator isn't where I'd start with Chaplin. It is partly a work of propaganda rushed because the British Government wanted it released to help moral. It doesn't show him in the character for the tramp, the barber shares many characteristics with the tramp but he has a home and a trade.

I'd recommend anyone who wanted an introduction to Chaplin to start with The Kid . It's just short of an hour, it tugs at the heart strings. Don't let anyone tell you it's over sentimental, it's not.

The Mutual short films are a delight. The Immigrant is a work of perfection. The Vagabond, The Cure, The Adventurer, Easy Street, Behind The Screen, One Am and The Pawnshop are all great comedies.

City Lights, Modern Times, The Gold Rush and The Circus are his other features as the tramp.

These should be easy to rent out from Netflix or Amazon. It will give you a better appreciation of Chaplin. If you still don't like him, then I can't help you. :)

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Postby ChiO » February 14th, 2008, 5:40 pm

For most of my life I have thought the populace was divided in two parts: those who love Chaplin and those who love Keaton. This Board has shown me that there are many who love both.

Me -- I'm solidly in the Chaplin camp. THE GREAT DICTATOR probably isn't the place to start...but it's a great place to end after the shorts, THE GOLD RUSH, CITY LIGHTS, THE CIRCUS, MODERN TIMES, LIMELIGHT and, yes, even MONSIEUR VERDOUX.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Postby charliechaplinfan » February 15th, 2008, 2:28 pm

ChiO I agree, Monsieur Verdoux is another Chaplin masterpiece.

I love Buster almost as much as Chaplin. Chaplin just wins it by a bugs whisker, I discovered him many years ago and Buster is a more recent discovery. I've watched Chaplin's films quite a few times but I'm not as fimiliar with Buster's work.

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Postby Ollie » February 15th, 2008, 7:40 pm

If the world gets divided into those two camps, where does Harold Lloyd fit?

Is he a pretender? A wanna-be? Is he a convenient compromise for both camps to enjoy? Or someone that those two camps equally dismissed or besmirched?

I have much greater fond experiences with Keaton. His stunts seemed huge and intricate, and those attracted me. Houses falling with an open window. Train #1 misses the house, everyone's SO relieved. We're all smiling and laughing, "Whew! That was close!" and then Train #2 roars thru and destroys the place. A great gag.

But you'd have a hard time holding me still for one of his features.

I wonder if Hollywood - from set designs to camerawork - would have progressed in the same way without these three, or the popularity their films enjoyed, or even the rivalry. Were their film crews trying to out-do each other?

Thanks also for the time you spent writing up a mini-syllabus for me for Chaplin Studies. This is why I love these forums - to hear someone wax so enthusiastically about a subject I normally dismiss.

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