Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
July 02
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.


More Flashbacks
Airplane July 2, 1980
Airplane! released

When Airplane! was released during the summer of 1980, no one was quite sure what to make of its machine-gun splatter of corny jokes and absurd send ups.

Read more »
July 2, 1941
Sergeant York has NY premiere

In the summer of 1941, with America still on the fence about the war in Europe, audiences flocked to see Sergeant York, Howard Hawks’ patriotic anthem to an unexpected military hero. Based on the real life hero Alvin York, the drama follows the exploits of this simple man from Tennessee.

Read more »
2 July 2005
Black Saturday

On Saturday July 2, 2005, screenwriter Ernest Lehman died of a heart attack at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 89.

Read more »