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While the film itself was generally well-received by the public, Charlie Chaplin’s final speech in The Great Dictator [1940] was considered extremely controversial and unpopular at the time. While Chaplin understood that he would be taking a risk by making his first “talkie,” the ramifications of this one single scene would be dire.

Because of this scene, Chaplin was the target of more than a decade of politically-motivated investigations by the FBI (including being put on trial for “moral turpitude”), government-initiated negative media campaigns, accusations of communism, and eventually exile from the United States in 1952.

Despite the best attempts of those who tried to shame and silence Charlie Chaplin, this final moment - with Chaplin staring directly into the camera - remains to this day perhaps the greatest and most courageous speech ever given in film history.

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