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From Little Tramp to Great Dictator

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In September 1939, one week after the beginning of World War II and two years before the U.S. would declare war on Germany, Charlie Chaplin began filming The Great Dictator. The rest of the film industry had transitioned to sound by 1929, but up until this point, Chaplin had held his ground and continued to make silent films, fearing that giving his Little Tramp character a voice would diminish his universal appeal. Hitler and Chaplin were the same age (born within four days of each other) and bore a superficial resemblance to one another, particularly because of their facial hair. (For the record, Chaplin adopted his toothbrush mustache in 1915, long before Hitler did.) This unfortunate similarity provided the pretext for Chaplin's first talking film, in which Chaplin plays megalomaniac Adenoid Hynkel. Chaplin mimics Hitler's mannerisms and oratory style by delivering rally speeches in gibberish and substituting the requisite armband's swastika with a "double cross." The Great Dictator screens at 7 p.m. tonight at Lindenwood University's Young Auditorium (209 South Kingshighway, St. Charles; www.lindenwood.edu/film). Admission is $5, cash only.
Fri., April 11, 7 p.m., 2014

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