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The Hitler Gang

USA 1944
produced by
Buddy G. DeSylva for Paramount
directed by John Farrow
starring Bobby Watson, Roman Bohnen, Martin Kosleck, Victor Varconi, Luis Van Rooten, Alex Pope, Ivan Triesault, Poldi Dur, Helene THimig, Reinhold Schünzel, Sig Ruman, Alexander Granach, Fritz Kortner, Tonio Selwart, Richard Ryen, Ray Collins, Ludwig Donath, Ernö Verebes, Walter Kingsford, Fred Nurney, Arthur Loft, Lionel Royce
written by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Kurth Neumann (contributing), music by David Buttolph

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

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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It starts in a military hospital in 1918, with soldier Adolf Hitler (Bobby Watson) suffering from hysterical blindness to escape the frontlines. Once the war's over though, he learns about a bunch of soldiers planning acts of sabotage, and reports it to his superior Captain Röhm (Roman Bohnen), who soon figures Hitler might be just the right man to infiltrate the Workers Party to keep an eye on them. Hitler does Röhm one better and becomes a popular speaker of the party, and eventually becomes the party leader by relying on mean propaganda tactics and painting the Jew as such as the common enemy. The Workers Party soon become the National Socialists, as Hitler, helped by his allies Himmler (Luis Van Rooten) the schemer and Göring (Alex Pope) the party strongman, use methods of bullying to dictate a partyline to its followers and remove those against the direction of the party quite violently.

In 1923, Hitler and his National Socialists plan a coup d'état, co-headed by popular World War I general Ludendorff (Reinhold Schünzel), but are led into a trap by those who they believed supported them, and Hitler is arrested for half a year, a period during which he writes Mein Kampf, much of it dictated by Goebbels (Martin Koeslick), one of his closest partners in crime.

Out of prison, Hitler's half sister (Helene Thimig) and his half niece Geli Raubal (Poldi Dur) move in with him, and he falls head-over-heels in love with Geli - and when the love is not requited, Hitler just takes what he considers his -, which worries Himmler, Goebbels and Göring, as they need a strong leader for the National Socialists, so they organize for Hitler to catch Geli with another man and shoot her, the knowledge of which they think makes them potty in their hand ...

The 1933, the National Socialists, due to heavy propaganda, do exceptionally well at the elections. They don't become strongest party mind you, but have large chunks of the industry behind them, so president Hindenburg (Sig Ruman)  sees himself forced to make Hitler chancellor - but with limited responsibilities. Then the Reichstag burns though, something started by the Nazis of course but blamed on the communists, and now Hindenburg sees himself forced to give Hitler extra powers.

With a mighty Hitler, Himmler and Göring see it best to launch a regime of terror and eliminate all opposition, also to keep Hitler in their grasp - but he manages to top the both of them when it comes to ruthlessness, and eventually, he lays the groundwork for World War II.

 

An interesting early Hitler-portrait on film, as despite being made at the height of World War II, it manages to tell a story that is more than just propaganda material but tells a rather multi-layered story that doesn't make Hitler look just like a monster but someone with human traits even (and thus, it's probably repeat Hitler-actor Bobby Watson's most interesting Hitler-performance), while the whole film shows at times definite signs of a gangster movie - a rather fresh if not all that far-fetched approach regarding some details in the National Socialist Party's history.

In all, the film is a very lively feature that has none of the heavy-handedness of your usual propaganda movie, and while I'm sure bona fide historians will probably find inaccuracies aplenty, it at least tries to remain close to the truth.

That said, not a very great movie, but a rather entertaining one at least, also given its subject matter.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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directed by
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written by
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