Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Notable Trials and Court Cases - 1941 to 1953 » Bercovici v. Chaplin: 1947 - "the Little Tramp" Plays To A Full House, Plaintiff Claims Oral Agreement, Suggestions For Further Reading

Bercovici v. Chaplin: 1947 - "the Little Tramp" Plays To A Full House

based hitler film scenario

News of the showing brought renewed interest in the film in America. Konrad Bercovici announced a particular interest in the 7-year-old film: He was suing his old friend Chaplin for plagiarism, for, he said, he had first suggested in the mid-1930s that the "Little Tramp" play Hitler. He demanded $6,450,000.

The trial began—"before a full house," as the newspapers reported—on April 17, 1947, in U.S. District Court in New York City, with Judge Harold P. Burke presiding. Bercovici's lawyer, the renowned Louis Nizer, told the jury he would prove that Chaplin had contracted with Bercovici to collaborate in the production of a series of pictures, with the plaintiff to receive 15 percent of the gross profits. In 1938, he said, Bercovici had written a satirical scenario based on Hitler and dictatorship, but Chaplin had rejected it for political reasons. The Great Dictator, he charged, was based on that scenario.

A parade of witnesses ranging from actor Melvyn Douglas to producer Alexander Korda to Chaplin's ex-wife, actress Paulette Goddard, testified on Chaplin's behalf during the next two weeks.

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