The Great Dictator ★★★★

Not feeling well, so I did my usual sicky routine of staying in bed and taking care of classic movie blind spots. (I started this in college when I had mono; I watched GONE WITH THE WIND and THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI and any long movie I could get my hands on. It was great.) Earlier I did UGETSU and after a nap I watched THE GREAT DICTATOR. Probably a better act of defiance than a movie -- but WHAT an act of defiance, sprinkled liberally with some marvelous comic set-pieces (the World War I opening with the enormous canon and the grenade down the pants had me laughing out loud).

The middle sags and the whole thing could probably be tightened, but I suppose those weaknesses could be chalked up to (and excused by) the great depth of feeling with which the film was made. It bubbles through the entire movie and then explodes in the final rousing speech which violates every show-don't-tell law of cinema but works in spite of itself thanks to Chaplin's passionate performance and the hugely subversive fact that it's a guy dressed as Hitler looking directly into the camera and making a plea to the world for democracy.