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.


  1. Very cool - thanks for posting!

  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.

    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.

    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!

    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.