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Hitler - Dead or Alive

USA 1942
produced by
Ben Judell
directed by Nick Grinde
starring Ward Bond, Dorothy Tree, Warren Hymer, Paul Fix, Russell Hicks, Bobby Watson, Bruce Edwards, Felix Basch, Frederick Giermann, Kenneth Harlan, Fee Malten
written by Sam Neuman, Karl Brown

Hitler, Hitler (Bobby Watson), American World War II Propaganda

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Incredibly rich Samuel Thornton (Russell Hicks), an American patriot, puts out a contract on Hitler (Bobby Watson), promising 1 million Dollar in cash to the man who kills the dictator. As it happens mobsters Steve Maschik (Ward Bond), Dutch (Warren Hymer) & Book (Paul Fix) have just been released from Alcatraz & are looking for work that doesn't differ too much from what they have done previously, so Thornton's offer seems just like a gift from heaven. The trio soon enlists in the Canadian Air Force & are sent to Enlgland, where they hijack the bomberplane of pilot Johnny Stevenson (Bruce Edwards) & parachute over Germany.

In Germany they promptly steal a beer truck, but nevertheless they are soon apprehended by the German police & broght to the Dachau concentration camp. However, Steve uses his streetwise charm to convince Dachau's commander Hecht (Felix Basch) that they have a message to deliver to Hitler personally (carefully forgetting to mention that the message is a bullet in the head of course), & Hecht, though throwing them in a cell all the same, can't risk doing them any harm.

But then there's Hecht's girlfriend Else Von Brandt (Dorothy Tree), who is really Rosebud, a woman who regularly frees British POW's from Dachau, & she helps Steve, Butch, Book & Johnny (who only gradually grows wise to what the gangster trio is actually up to) escape from Dachau, even if Dutch has to give his life in the process. However, once Else has learned what they are up to, she is reluctant to help our heroes, as she thinks one Hitler more or less wouldn't end the war. But Steve can nevertheless con her into taking him, Johnny, Book & Meier (Frederick Giermann)  - a doctor & the only man who knows what Hitler looks like under his mustache (so to tell him apart from his doubles) - to a gardenparty attended by Hitler as her musicians ... & there Steve can really grab the chance to take Hitler as hostage, however he won't shoot him & instead wants to force the Germans to end the war, while he ensures a safe getaway for pilot Johnny & Else. However, once they have flown off in Hitler's private plane, & Steve has shaved Hitler, things get out of hand, as the Germans do no longer recognize their Führer in that shaved little man, instead mistake him for one of Steve's accomplices, & shoot not only Steve but also Hitler (the real one) like the dog he is.

The war however, doesn't stop here ...

Millionaire Thornton though has, in awe, seen Steve's act of patriotism, & has invested the million thought for Steve into bomberplanes ...

 

Quite obviously this is a propaganda film, so it's about as subtle as my synopsis might seem, & as a comedy it is - quite naturally, for a propaganda film - not all that great. It is some fun however for the sheer bluntness of hammering its message home, & for the very naive look onto wartime politics & war s such.

Bobby Watson by the way, the man who portrayed Hitler, did so in a string of propaganda movies (starting  in 1942 with The Devil with Hitler by Gordon Douglas), & even returned to the role in 1957 (The Story of Mankind by Irwin Allen) & 1961 (the Danny Kaye-Comedy On the Double, by Melville Shavelson).

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD