With 'The Ides of March' on the way, a state of the filmpolitik union
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6. “The Great Dictator” (Charlie Chaplin, 1940)
Whether the first outright talkie (and lone major Oscar nominee) of Charlie Chaplin’s career still holds up as one of his most rewarding comedies is open to question; its laughs are big but sometimes bracketed in context, while its social commentary sometimes wants a lighter hand. But the film's ample pleasures still come wrapped in astonishment that he made it at all. A gleefully unsubtle satire blasting Adolf Hitler (I beg your pardon, Adenoid Hynkel) in every possible department, it’s one of the most adventurous examples of popular entertainment seizing its moment to spur a public response to immediate injustices.