Wikipedia: 'The Great Dictator' - a 1940 American satirical political comedy-drama film starring, written, produced, scored, and directed by Charlie Chaplin, following the tradition of many of his other films.
Having been the only Hollywood filmmaker to continue to make silent films well into the period of sound films, this was Chaplin's first true talking picture as well as his most commercially successful film.
At the time of its first release, the United States was still formally at peace with Nazi Germany. Chaplin's film advanced a stirring, controversial condemnation of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini's fascism, antisemitism, and the Nazis...In his 1964 autobiography, Chaplin stated that he would not have made the film had he known about the actual horrors of the Nazi concentration camps at the time.'
Excerpt from, Turner Classic Movies [TCM.com] 'Synopsis':
'A Jewish barber, suffering from amnesia since World War I, finally returns to his home in Tomania to discover the country overrun with anti-Semitic storm troopers under the leadership of Dictator Adenoid Hynkel. The only ghetto inhabitant strong enough to defy the soldiers is a young orphan, Hannah, with whom he falls in love. When the barber joins a resistance leader he had served under in the war, the two are arrested, just as Hynkel is plotting world domination in meetings with rival dictator Napolini of Bacteria. The barber and his friend escape prison as Hynkel is hunting nearby. When an accident separates Hynkel from his party, the prison guards mistake him for the escaped barber and take him into custody. Meanwhile, Hynkel's storm troopers mistake the barber for their leader. After leading the country in a successful invasion, he delivers an international address repudiating Hynkel's dictatorship and spreading the message of peace and liberty.'
At the time of the film's release '...Charlie Chaplin's films were already banned in Nazi Germany because of the erroneous belief that he was Jewish.'
- by Frank Miller
Note: Frank Miller's TCM.com, 'The Great Dictator' page provides absolutely fascinating background regarding the history of the film. Highly recommended. - DVM
The role of Adenoid Hynkel, was the first character other than The Little Tramp, that Chaplin had played in two decades.
It is the first movie in which Charlie Chaplin acts in full speaking roles, unlike his earlier silent film work.
Charlie Chaplin's film, The Great Dictator, pulled no punches in its searing parody of events unfolding in Europe pre-WWII. Other Hollywood producers and directors were pressured to soften the tone of their productions.