This Saturday will see Christmas Day. Rather than publish this article then, the British Gazette does so today. The British Gazette has since its resurrection as a source of online news and commentary has asserted the desirability of as well as the lawful duty of those running this country of asserting the sovereignty of this United Kingdom. It deprecates those who seek otherwise.
Christmas Day is the day on which Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, KBE died. The British Gazette commemorates this man with an excerpt from one of his most well known films, The Great Dictator. Of all drama it can reasonably be said that the “final speech” of this film is one of the finest orations ever spoken by one man to many. It is a wonderful yet hopelessly idealistic speech. It is however a speech that among any other ensured that Sir Charles Chaplin had “his card marked” by US politicians who believed him to be a communist. These morons were not disabused of this notion even after the great man took up residence in Switzerland as a tax exile!
The Great Dictator by Sir Charles Chaplin, KBE was released in October 1940. Like most Chaplin films, he wrote, produced, and directed, in addition to starring as the lead. It was the first major feature film of its period to bitterly satirize Nazism and Adolf Hitler. At the time of its first release, the United States was still formally at peace with Nazi Germany. Sir Charles Chaplin’s film advanced a stirring, controversial condemnation of Hitler, fascism, anti-Semitism, and the Nazis, whom he excoriates in the film as “machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts”. When the film was in production, the British government announced that it would prohibit its exhibition in the United Kingdom in keeping with its appeasement policy concerning Nazi Germany. However, by the time the film was released, the UK was at war with Germany and the film was now welcomed in part for its obvious propaganda value. In 1941, London’s Prince of Wales Theatre screened its UK premiere. It became Sir Charles Chaplin’s highest grossing film.
In his 1964 autobiography, Sir Charles Chaplin stated that he would not have been able to make such jokes about the Nazi regime had the extent of the Nazi horrors been known, particularly the death camps and the Holocaust.
During the era of McCarthyism, Sir Charles Chaplin was accused of “un-American activities” as a suspected communist and J. Edgar Hoover, who had instructed the FBI to keep extensive secret files on him, tried to end his United States residency when Congressional figures threatened to call him as a witness in hearings. This was never done, probably from fear of Sir Charles Chaplin’s ability to lampoon the politicians.
In 1952, Sir Charles Chaplin left the US for what was intended as a brief trip home to the United Kingdom for the London premiere of Limelight. Hoover learned of the trip and negotiated with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to revoke Sir Charles Chaplin’s re-entry permit, exiling Sir Charles Chaplin so he could not return for his alleged political leanings. Sir Charles Chaplin decided not to re-enter the United States, writing: “Since the end of the last world war, I have been the object of lies and propaganda by powerful reactionary groups who, by their influence and by the aid of America’s yellow press, have created an unhealthy atmosphere in which liberal-minded individuals can be singled out and persecuted. Under these conditions I find it virtually impossible to continue my motion-picture work, and I have therefore given up my residence in the United States.”
Sir Charles Chaplin was knighted in 1975 at the age of 85 as a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. The honour had been first proposed in 1931. Knighthood was suggested again in 1956, but was vetoed after a Foreign Office report raised concerns over Chaplin’s purported “communist” views; it was felt that honouring him would damage relations with the United States. The word lickspittle comes to mind.