Friday, January 16, 2015

The skylight fall from THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940)


Above: The barber crashes through a skylight and is eventually apprehended by the stormtroopers. Watch the stunt here.

Chaplin actually fell through the skylight in this scene--a 15-foot fall. The "glass" was made from boiled sugar & water. He filmed the stunt in one take.

Below: Production sketches show how the fall was done. These sketches, by art director Russ Spencer, appeared in the December 1940 issue of Photoplay.


5 comments:

  1. Very cool - thanks for posting!

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  2. I wonder if this was the first film for which Chaplin employed an art director who made sketches like this? It would be interesting to find out.

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    1. Art director Charles D. Hall worked for Chaplin as far back as THE GOLD RUSH. Here are a couple of his sketches for THE CIRCUS & MODERN TIMES.
      http://i140.photobucket.com/albums/r19/jbuxton72/19410711144.jpg
      http://i140.photobucket.com/albums/r19/jbuxton72/16819644731-1.jpg

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    2. Thanks for answering my question, Jessica! Now that I think about it, I know he worked on The Kid, too, but I haven't seen any sketches for that film. Now you've got me wondering if there were sketches for the sets--there probably were, but they just may not have been preserved, at least not in the archive in Bologna. How I'd love to see them!

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    3. Yes, you're right. I knew he was involved with the UA films (except AWOP), but I didn't think he went back as far as the First Nationals. Evidently he worked on all of them. I'd love to see those sketches too.

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