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Pedido - The Tramp and the Dictator (2002)
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The Tramp and the Dictator



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A fascinating comparison of the parallel lives of Charlie Chaplin and Adolph Hitler. While Hollywood proves too cautious to deal with Adolph Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s, Charlie Chaplin is the exception, crafting "The Great Dictator" as a direct and utterly satirical response to the growing threat of the Third Reich. Using behind-the-scenes film footage rescued from Chaplin's Swiss villa, Kevin Brownlow's documentary explores this unique confrontation between one of the 20th century's most beloved entertainers and its most notorious dictator.
During his heyday, Charlie Chaplin was one of the most beloved men in the world; Adolf Hitler was arguably the most hated figure of the 20th century. It seemed that there was little in common between the two men save for their little square mustaches. Chaplin and Hitler actually had a surprising number of things in common: They were born within a week of each other in April 1889; they experienced harsh, impoverished childhoods; and they aspired to be artists — Chaplin escaped poverty by entering the theater, while Hitler strove to find acceptance as a painter but was rejected by the Vienna Academy.
Just few years before Chaplin shot to fame as The Tramp, Hitler had actually been down and out in Vienna - until he found refuge at a home for men supported by a Jewish charitable organisation. "Both mirrored the same reality - the deprivation of the 'little man' in modern society. Both are travesties, the one for good, the other for unspeakable evil." This was written in "The Spectator" in April 1939, on the occasion of both their fifties birthdays. But there is something and interesting more in this documentary: Viktoria Chaplin found in a suitcase from her uncle Sydney 16mm filmstrips: Chaplin's brother had photographed the shooting of the masterpiece The Great Dictator, with his amateur camera in full color.
This documentary by Kevin Brownlow and Michael Kloft parallels the lives of Charlie Chaplin and Adolf Hitler, from their births the same week to the start of production on THE GREAT DICTATOR a week after Hitler's invasion of Poland. It includes interviews with Chaplin's son Sydney, author Ray Bradbury and Budd Schulberg, artist Al Hirschfeld, director Sidney Lumet and historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr, among others.

Directed by Kevin Brownlow & Michael Kloft ; A Photoplay & Spiegel TV Co-Production for Turner Classic Movies in Association with BBC Television