Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Strange Death of Adolf Hitler (1943)

Director: James P. Hogan

Writers: Fritz Kortner, Joe May

Composers: Hans J. Salter, William Lava

Starring: Ludwig Donath, Gale Sondergaard, George Dolenz, Fritz Kortner, Ludwig Stossel, William Trenk, Joan Blair, Ivan Triesault, Rudolph Anders, Erno Verebes, Merrill Rodin, Charles Bates

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Is he dead?

Plot: A man who does a good Hitler impression is made to look like Hitler as a decoy for assassination attempts.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I LOVE the premise of this picture but the problem is in the execution.  The acting is so over the top it's hard to watch and often dull.  The performance pendulum swings from Anna Huber (Sondergaard), the wife of the impersonator, Franz Huber (Donath), who is so melodramatic that I wanted to yell at the screen, "Come on, already!".  Then on the other side you've cartoonish performances from the Nazis.  It's really bad no matter how long the picture is and this one is a short 74 minutes.  However, Donath in the dual role of Huber and Hitler is fantastic and his is the most important role in the picture.  They did right by casting this guy.  The Austrian born actor did 9 pictures in '43!  Aside from Donath, the best part of the film is the great story and amazing climax.  It's worth watching for that alone.  Director Hogan, who died shortly after making this picture, had a prolific career directing 61 movies in 23 years.  It looks like it's all low budget B-pictures but that's still impressive.  This one was made by Universal but had they given this more money and better talent, this could've been one knockout of a picture.  I'm surprised this is as good as it is despite its major flaws.  If you can get past the dull spots and the WTF acting then you'll probably find this reasonably entertaining. 

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