Tuesday 5 July 2011

And I call myself a cinephile...

OK, not exactly a cinephile, but certainly someone who is reasonably well-versed in several genres of film and has a great love of it.

So how the hell did I not know that "The Rabbit Of Seville" (1950) was influenced by Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" (1940)?

Granted, I hadn't seen the film until tonight, so obviously if I had seen this:

it would've been pretty obvious that Chaplin had a direct influence on one of Bugs Bunny's greatest cartoons (sorry, the poor quality video below is all I could find):

There's even a later scene with two people (the dictators of Tomainia and Bacteria) trying to rise above each other in barber chairs.

I can forgive myself for not having seen the film (now rectified), but how did this particular aspect slide by me all these years?

What's particularly wonderful about Chaplin's scene (choreographed to Brahms' "Hungarian Dance No. 5") is that it is done entirely in one single shot. It's effective at building the humour throughout until it ends with those perfectly timed moves. There are plenty of moments like that in the film - subtle timing from Chaplin that just brings a big fat smile to your face. If his closing speech is anything but subtle (and doesn't quite serve the film as well as I felt it could have), it must've been quite amazing to see on the screen in 1940 with Hitler on the rise...


Ryan McNeil said...

I was *this* close to one of my incredelous "Youhaventseenthat!!!???" moments...and then my brain went back to last night, when I watched MILLER'S CROSSING for the first time.

Glad you finally caught this one - it's an all time fave for me, and one that I'll probably upgrade in the upcoming Barnes & Noble Criterion sale.

Bob Turnbull said...

Heh, I'm sure we could go all day countering back and forth with "Yeah, I haven't seen that, but have you seen this?!". Hmmm, that might actually be kinda fun!

I just saw Mounsieur Verdoux as well and I must say that there is something wonderful about Chaplin's voice...Not that either of these films push out Modern Times as my fave Chaplin feature (though I've only seen about half of his feature length films so far), but there's something about the pitch or cadence which, combined with his ability to speak things quickly, just soothes my ear. Of course, I love his Tomainian dialogue as well...B-)