Tag Archives: bumbling idiots

The Great Dictator: A Nazi Slap to Hitler

In another vein, for a different class, I watched Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. I gotta tell ya, this is a completely different pace in comparison to the movies I usually watch. I’m all about movies after 1970, the color films, the 100 minute movies. I’m not usually up for the 2 hour black and white snore fests. But this one was at least a bit different. Hey dad, looks like I’m growing up a bit with a little taste of cultured film.

The Great Dictator is the story of a note so great dictator, Adolph Hitler. Cleverly renamed as Adenoid Hynkel, Charlie Chaplin mirrors the rise of Hitler into power and his subsequent actions in his self appointed office. Parallel to this is an image of Chaplin’s Tramp character, the

It’s just too uncanny…

Jewish barber. After having served during World War I, the barber lost his memory and didn’t realize the war had been lost or that Hynkel had been put into power. The persecution of the Jews is underplayed in this movie (it seems as if they’re not treated that poorly), and Chaplin later apologized after finding out about the concentration camps. A depressing issue indeed.

The parts that make this movie funny is only about half of the film. There’s Chaplin’s speech as Hynkel, accurately mimicking Hitler’s wimpy return salute, and the German language and Hitler’s oratory style is dead on. The short English retorts are perfect and simply explain just what Hitler was up to. The bumbling idiots of Hynkel’s cabinet, characterized by Henry Daniell as “Garbage” and Billy Gilbert as “Herring”, strongly insinuate Himmler and

Too legit.

Goebbels (maybe some Goreing thrown in there). The floating globe is amazing and the slapstick is always good. I had no idea how much of a comedic genius Charlie Chaplin was.

The other half of the movie contains the plot. And I found it to be a very uninteresting one. The Jewish barber falls in love with a Jewish washing woman, and the Nazi Gestapo harass her and the barber all day long. After finding the man whose life he saved in the war, the barber befriends Schultz (Reginald Gardiner) and sets about a coup in order to kill Hynkel (if only they had…). Things go wrong, identities are mistaken, and Chaplin (the barber) gives a profound speech at the end, one I felt was directed right at Hitler. Coming out in 1940, this movie, viewed twice by Hitler, was a plea to stop the war. If only it had succeeded.

A lot of the stuff in older movies like this feel the same to me. The long credits at the beginning, the old time music, the higher pitched male voices and long shots, it’s all a constant. I have to admit I was a bit sleepy after this one. But the subject matter and slapstick are what really saved it for me. It was an

A love made in boredom?

extremely clever spoof of Hitler’s Nazi regime and spoke a lot to the things I’ve been learning about in my Holocaust class. I would recommend this one to history buffs and fans of old films, because this one is one of those classics (if you can’t get a hold of an actual copy, check out YouTube for the whole film). Not exactly my style, but I still appreciate it. 7.3 out of 10.

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Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels

I gotta tell ya, if you didn’t already know this about me, I love British films. I’ve watched the casts in British T.V., films, and American movies alike, starring alongside other big name actors. They crush their lines with timing and precision, they hold an air of Shakespearean flair, and

The Lock and Stock gang (not actual name).

they got the whole suave, posh thing goin’ on. I gotta hand it to Jason Statham, he’s a godawful muscle man stunt actor in American films, but he fits right in when the rest of the cast is from the U.K. And Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is this perfect case when it comes to that. A flavorful British cast with a renowned British director in one of his first film debuts, Guy Ritchie. Let the guns fly and the villains die.

Always out for a pint.

That’s basically what this movie is. Although there’s not really any big hero vs. villain gun fights or anything (you can’t tell the heroes from the villains anyway. Why would you want to?) you love the situation and the feel of the movie. It seems like everyone in the film has got a mouth on them, and they all speak the crime lingo. Everyone’s out for themselves with the big payday, and this movie has a big payday indeed.

The movie starts out with Bacon (Jason Statham) a two-bit swindler who speaks easy and cons you out of your money. Selling less than par jewelry, he and Eddy the Card Shark (Nick Moran) run through the streets of London after they’ve been had. Meanwhile, Tom (Jason

Talk about your smoking barrels…

Flemyng) is finishing his last deal with Nick “The Greek” (Stephen Marcus). He’s the brash leader of the group. Then there’s Soap (Dexter Fletcher), the straight walking saucier chef of the bunch. They all bring together 100,000 pounds for Eddy to play with versus Harry “The Hatchet” (P.H. Moriarty). After being forced into a loan and some shady dealings with some cameras and Morse code, Eddy loses and all four of the guys have to pay back 500,000 pounds. Oh no.

Cage match. For keeps.

With no means of being able to pay Harry back, the gang decides to drop in on a fellow gang’s robbery idea, stealing from the thieves. With a domino effect of a plot ensuing, you’ll never see the ending coming (or will you?). I personally was very satisfied with this film. Considered one of those “classic films” you should probably see before you die, I do agree. It is. It has a witty cast and a great vibe to it that just reeks of British gangster (as it should. They’re pretty ballin’.)

I want to spend a bit more time on that ballin’ cast I was talkin’ about. I already said Jason Statham, familiar with his feet set on the other side of the pond (not in America, obviously). There’s Nick Moran, who is someone I’ve seen occasionally in small roles, but after seeing this, I think he is destined for bigger and better things.

You bald buffoon.

Jason Flemyng is one of those actors I love seeing (besides his classic role and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in The League of Extraordinary Gentelmen), and I can’t get enough of his versatility. It was nice to see Dexter Fletcher without gray hair (he plays Nathan’s dad in the British T.V. show, Misfits) and his character is worth a few laughs. And I have to admit that I found P.H. Moriarty to be a pretty nefarious gang boss in this one. He played Gurney Halleck in the Dune series movies for cryin’ out loud! And there’s Vinnie Jones, the former club soccer player in England. Ever since he did this movie, he’s been poppin’ up all over the place. More power to him.

I’m the Juggernaut, female dog.

I loved the plot of this film. I don’t know if I can speak highly enough of it. It has at least 6 moving parties in the film (even some bumbling idiots you wouldn’t expect to do much), and everyone gets in a whole lotta shenanigans by the end. It’s not very often you see such complicated plots like this with such a great amount of dialogue that is pulled off so well. Leave it to the British to do that.

Combine all this with a solid soundtrack, colorful references and

Let’s get it poppin’.

language and a dialect all its own, and you have a crime film that defines the late 1990’s (even into the 2000’s). I’m just sorry I hadn’t seen this earlier. It kicked my ass, and left me wanting to see some other crime flicks. Looks like Revolver and RocknRolla are up now on my list of things to watch. 8.8 out of 10.