In 1940, silent film star Charlie Chaplin released his first sound film, The Great Dictator. It lampooned the Nazis, even as Hitler was making his way through Europe, and while the film was a great success, it also made some very powerful people very angry. The Fuhrer and the Tramp is a highly fictionalized and stylized depiction of the making of that film and of the reactions of those powerful people.
We begin with Chaplin, dressed as his most famous character, the Tramp, running afoul of some Nazi soldiers at the premiere of Leni Riefenstahl’s latest propaganda piece—and causing some very Tramp-esque shenanigans in the process. Back at home, Chaplin has the idea to skewer Hitler in his next movie. This idea immediately catches the attention of FDR and actress/inventor/super spy Hedy Lamarr. They want a film that will garner support for the Allied Forces and counteract Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda. And Chaplin is just the man for the job.
Making the film won’t be easy. Nazi sympathizers in the U.S. don’t like what Chaplin is doing, and when Hitler himself finds out about the project, things get even more dangerous. Nazis keep coming to stop Chaplin, first with their fists, then with weapons, then with increasingly bigger weapons. But with the help of Lamarr and Errol Flynn, along with a few other Hollywood Nazi fighters, hopefully, they’ll finish the movie and defeat the Third Reich.
This is a great action comedy story. Many of the characters are exaggerated versions of themselves, while others take on the personalities of the characters they’re most famous for—to great comedic effect. The sharp eye will notice a variety of movie references, too, not just to movies of the day, but to a number of classic comedies throughout cinema history. It’s also filled with everything from gunfights to fistfights to swashbuckling, all in the name of defeating a vain, narcissistic Hitler.
While most of the events in the comic are fictionalized, it’s still very much grounded in fact. Clearly, a lot of research went into this story to give it the flavor of actual 1930s and '40s Hollywood, so that even the made-up parts feel real. In fact, at the end of the first issue, there’s a section that breaks down, page by page, all of the background info from the real world that went into every throwaway joke and fleeting image. The breakdown may be a bit of overkill, but it’s fascinating to see just how much of the story is based on reality, along with some of the other inspirations.
All in all, this is a great, highly entertaining comic. If you’re a fan of classic Hollywood, action comedies, and good, old-fashioned Nazi fighting, you’ll definitely want to check out The Fuhrer and the Tramp.
Creative Team: Sean McArdle (creator, writer, letterer, colorist), Jon Judy (writer), Dexter Wee (pencils and inks), Jiries Dawaher (producer), and Andy Schmidt (editor)
Publisher: Source Point Press
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