Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
August 01
October 15, 1940
The Great Comedian

More than a year before America entered World War II, Charlie Chaplin released The Great Dictator, a film that the next day, on October 16, the New York Times critic Bosley Crowther raved “turns out to be a truly superb accomplishment by a truly great artist –– and, from one point of view, perhaps the most significant film ever produced.” As Chaplin’s first talkie, The Great Dictator also turned out to be his most commercial film. Chaplin stars as both a Jewish barber and a fascist dictator named Adenoid Hynkel, a joke that played off the historically recognized resemblance between Chaplin and Hitler. Indeed radio comedian Tommy Handley had previously performed a joke song “Who is This Man (Who Looks like Charlie Chaplin)” on his BBC show. The Nazis had long had Chaplin in their own sights, naming him "a disgusting Jewish acrobat” in their 1934 booklet The Jews Are Looking at You. While Chaplin had supposedly received secret encouragement from President Roosevelt for the project, Hollywood itself kept its distance, frightened of Germany’s possible response. But after its popular reception, their tune changed. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, and led the way for other anti-Nazi comedies, most notably Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 To Be or Not to Be. Years later, however, Chaplin himself wondered in My Autobiography, if he could had made the same film had he known the real depth of Nazi atrocities.


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Frances Farmer August 1, 1970
Frances Farmer dies

When Frances Farmer finally died from esophageal cancer in 1970, it marked the end of a life whose tragedies became as famous as the star’s achievements.

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August 1, 1954
Rear Window opens

On this day in 1954, Alfred Hitchcock released one of his finest and most thrilling pictures, Rear Window. The movie was the second collaboration between Hitch and James Stewart.

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1 August 1986
$tallone's $tar Power

22 years ago this week, Sylvester Stallone was crowned the king of Hollywood when a list published in Company magazine announced him as the highest paid actor in the world.

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