Category Archives: 1940

Movies released in 1940.

Review: The Great Dictator

Director: Charlie Chaplin
Year: 1940
Score: 8.5/10

Why don't you stop reading this review, google 'great dictator speech', and strap yourself in for the speech from which this still was taken. Go on, do it!

Stop reading this review, scroll to the bottom, click ‘play’ on the embedded video, and strap yourself in for the speech from which this still was taken. Go on, do it!

Unique blend of satire, comedy and deeply felt drama, the latter of which comes mostly in the form of the beautiful speech at the very end of the film. Even in isolation, that speech – embedded at the end of this review – is one of the best things I’ve ever seen in a movie.

Some of the sillier humour in other scenes, left over from Chaplin’s silent film days, detracts from the rest, but not enough to ruin it. All the Germanish gibberish spouted by Adenoid Hynkel is hilarious, largely because of Chaplin’s excellent performance aping Hitler. Beyond the dictator himself, there’s plenty of delicious irony and satire elsewhere in the film, such as the scene in which a Tomainian storm trooper protects a group of Jews from being attacked by a mob of his fellow storm troopers, not because he wants to, but because he’s ‘just following orders’.

It really is quite remarkable that this was made when it was, with filming commencing a week after Germany invaded Poland and the film being released before the US had joined the war. Chaplin apparently later said that he wouldn’t have made the film had he known the extent of the Holocaust (which was really only just getting started at that point), but I think the timing actually gives it greater power. It’s by far the best of the two Charlie Chaplin films I’ve seen.

Review: The Philadelphia Story

Director: George Cukor
Year: 1940
Score: 7/10

Funny, talky romantic comedy starring three of the biggest stars of the day: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart. This was my first real exposure to Hepburn and she really impressed me. Much of the humour still works, though there are long swathes without any laughs. The actors are all very appealing and the plot is serviceable enough. Above average.