Archive for September 23, 2022

Tomorrow (the World) Belongs to Me

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on September 23, 2022 by dcairns

So, rather than shoving a blog post out at 11.45, I’m now starting this one at the comparatively godly hour of 9.27. I haven’t had time to watch anything except the films I’m engaged on for Criterion, so we’re stuck with THE GREAT DICTATOR and ALIAS JIMMY VALENTINE to choose from.

Shadowplay — the daily blog about two films.

THE GREAT DICTATOR wins the toss.

The barber and Hannah’s romance deepens as he accidentally starts shaving her. This is odd, I think because we’re still not sure how mentally unstable the barber is. In fact, Chaplin seems to abandon the idea of an amnesiac and psychologically vulnerable hero — it plays no further role in the story.

Paulette Goddard’s makeover finally removes the theatrical smudges from her face, though.

Hynkel’s decision to be nice to the Jews until he can get his bank loan results in disconcertingly well-mannered stormtroopers in the ghetto.

Back to Hynkel himself — with some relief. And we see the great dictator actually dictate, to his glamorous stenographer. He dictates in the Tomainian tongue, and there’s a nice silly joke about his long speeches taking only a few key-punches to transcribe, while a single word (“gehfluten”) requires several lines or rapid typing. Even Hynkel finds this odd, and he’s a native. VERY silly — Jerry Lewis silly.

And then the gloriously strange sight of two brunettes, Chaplin and Daniell / Hynkel and Garbitsch, remarking on how brunettes are troublemakers and the world will be a better place when they’re all exterminated. But it’s no stranger than Hitler’s obsessive ideas about Aryanism, and the lunacy needed pointing out.

Hynkel climbs the curtains. I adore this bit. It’s every bit as good as the more celebrated balloon dance. The way Daniell keeps up the melodramatic banter, ignoring the obviously nutty spectacle before him…

“I want to be alone.”

The dance with the globe is the culmination of the whole “the son of a bitch is a ballet dancer” thing. Chaplin gets great effects by being dance-like in his movements, but rarely does he actually dance. Some of the comic incongruity tends to be erased when he does, as in the misbegotten SUNNYSIDE. But there’s incongruity to spare here: one dance part is, essentially, Adolf Hitler, and the other is planet earth.

And Chaplin the actor doesn’t leave the room — as with the dance with the bread rolls, the dance does not supplant performance, and Hynkel’s tender emotions for his prospective conquest are deeply sinister in their effect, as is his positively satanic laughter.

The dance has a full dramatic structure — seduction, consummation, and the tragic denouement — the balloon bursting is taken as a rejection by the psychopathic manbaby.

It’s one of my favourite kinds of high cinematic art, because it also finds room for low jokes — when Hynkel sobs at the end, he does it by presenting his arse to the audience and hopping up and down on the balls of his feet, so his backside bounces like a bunny rabbit.

You’ve all seen it before, I expect, but it’s worth re-re-re-re and re-watching.