Nearly half an hour of silent behind-the-scenes color B-roll footage capturing Charlie Chaplin directing The Great Dictator sometime in 1939 or 1940. Discovered in 2002, this was captured on 16mm Kodachrome film by Charlie’s half-brother, Sydney. [thanks to refocusedmedia]
Here’s the complete behind the scenes feature for Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 classic film, made in 2002 and entitled The Tramp and the 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. The Tramp and the Dictator, a new documentary from film historian and archivist Kevin Brownlow (The Unknown Chaplin), looks at the similarities and differences between these two men who were born within four days of one another in April 1889 and rose to fame during the early part of the century. The documentary reveals that Hollywood was afraid in the late ’30s to upset the Nazis and was careful to excise anything anti-Third Reich from scripts. Part of the reason for their resistance to make anything critical toward Hitler was the fact that Hollywood didn’t want to lose the lucrative German film market—Hollywood exported movies to the country until 1941. More importantly, Brownlow asserts, Hollywood feared repercussions against Jews left in Germany. So when Chaplin decided to make The Great Dictator in 1939, before Hitler invaded Poland, Brownlow says Hollywood was “desperate to stop him. One can understand that.” Even after Chaplin made the film with his own money, the studio chiefs didn’t want it released. Finally, says son Sydney Chaplin, it was President Roosevelt who stepped in. “My father didn’t like Hitler at all,” recalls Chaplin. “He thought he was pompous and ridiculous. But we weren’t at war. He finally had to get permission to release the picture from President Roosevelt. Roosevelt said that this man should be ridiculed.” —The Tramp and the Dictator: The Laugh Was on Hitler
“It’s only 32 pages long but Chaplin: Clown and Genius — A Tribute to Charlie is the finest tribute I have read about one of four of the greatest comedians the world has known. Published in 1978 by World Distributors (Manchester) Ltd, this little-long book contains only three chapters—The Early Years, Exit the Clown and The Final Curtain—and is interspersed with large, and some rare, black-and-white photographs that trace Chaplin’s hugely successful cinematic journey from pre-WWI to post-WWII. Chaplin: Clown and Genius appears to be out of stock. Amazon and eBay don’t have it. I do, picked it up for $1 from a roadside bookseller in Bombay, and it’s not for sale. One must hold on to the clowns and geniuses in one’s life.” —Prashant C. Trikannad
Cinephilia and Beyond comes to the rescue. You can download the PDF here.