10 Good Movies Featuring Hitler
By Shane Rivers
Yes, this article lists 10 good movies featuring Hitler. No, I am not a Nazi. There’s one simple reason why this list was put together: Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds hits theaters this Friday, and every protagonist in the film is trying to off the moustache-wearing leader of the Third Reich. Since Hitler himself makes an appearance, I figured it would be an appropriate time to feature some other good movies which deal with history’s most infamous dictator. Make sense? Hopefully that Israeli strike team en route to my house has now been called off.
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1. The Bunker (1981) – This was actually a CBS TV movie, but The Bunker still demands inclusion on the list due to the actor playing Hitler. I’m talking about Sir Anthony Hopkins, the famed British thespian who would later hit career paydirt with his portrayal of another charismatic madman, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Hopkins won an Emmy for his efforts, and it was said that the actors playing German soldiers would actually snap to attention when he came on the set. Hitler doesn’t beat anyone to death with a nightstick or cook Ray Liotta’s brains, but it’s an excellent performance just the same.
2. The Boys from Brazil – Gregory Peck plays death camp doctor Josef Mengele in this film based on the novel by Ira Levin. It seems Mengele escaped to South America following the war, and he’s been working on a long-term plan to create clones of Hitler and once again bring about the rise of the Third Reich. He’s opposed by Ezra Lieberman (Laurence Olivier), an aging Nazi hunter. Besides getting to see Peck and Olivier in a geriatric slugfest, we’re also introduced to several of the creepy young Hitler clones (all played by the same actor). One of the great thrillers that the ‘70s were famous for.
3. The Great Dictator – The first talking film from Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator was the only movie of its day to criticize Hitler and the Nazi ideals (it was released in 1940, prior to the United States entering the war). Chaplin plays both a Jewish private suffering from amnesia and the brutal dictator of Tomainia, Adenoid Hynkel (meant as a direct parody of Hitler), each of whom could pass as the other‘s double. This leads to a hilarious case of mistaken identity, and there’s also a romantic subplot with Paulette Goddard. One of the key comedic scenes features Hynkel dancing with an inflatable globe to the music of Wagner’s Lohengrin Overture.
4. Moloch – An international production involving France, Russia, Germany, Japan and Italy, Moloch was helmed by Russian director Alexander Sokurov. The film takes place over the course of a day, as Hitler, Eva Braun, and others gather for relaxation in a Bavarian fortress. Featuring a soundtrack consisting entirely of Wagner, Moloch is a dreamlike portrait of a mind gone mad with power. This was the first in a trilogy of films by Sokurov, with the next two dealing with the lives of Vladimir Lenin and Emperor Hirohito.
5. Downfall – Bruno Ganz’s Hitler is widely considered to be the best on-screen portrayal of the German dictator ever filmed. Based on the novel, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, the film depicts the last 12 days of Hitler’s life prior to his committing suicide. The leader of the Third Reich orders counterattacks, chastises his generals, and later begins to contemplate suicide when it appears that all is lost. His complicated relationship with Eva Braun is covered, as well as his affection for his staff and his German Shepherd, Blondi. A complicated film, Downfall shows Hitler to be man as well as monster.
6. Punching Hitler – A guy named Willis is house-sitting for his boss and entertaining a couple of drinking buddies, Don and Bernie. When he shows his pals a strange device out in the garage, the trio come to the realization that it’s a time machine. And, of course, the first thing any sane individual would do with a time machine is to go back in time and punch an 8-year-old Adolph Hitler in the face. That’s exactly what they do, before deciding to travel throughout Hitler’s life and punch him in the face every single day for 56 years. Sure, it’s a paper-thin premise, but this is also a short film, so the joke doesn’t have a chance to get stale. There’s something cathartic about watching Hitler get punched over and over, and his reactions to the daily assault are priceless. I’m hoping for a sequel called “Kicking Stalin in the Balls.”
7. Triumph of the Will – Directed by Leni Riefenstahl, Triumph of the Will is pure Nazi propaganda from the first frame to the last. Filmed during the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, it’s an absolute orgy of Nazi party doctrine and Nazi imagery. Hitler commissioned the movie to demonstrate the majesty of the Third Reich, and Reifenstahl beautifully captures the stunning visuals designed by an artist gone mad. The film won many awards in its day, and its use of numerous cinematic techniques have led to it being considered one of the most important films of all time. Since the film’s narrative is non-traditional, the 114 minute run time can be difficult for the casual viewer, but it’s a must-see for those wondering how Hitler and the Nazi party were able to seduce a nation into following their mad whims.
8. Night and Fog – Clocking in at 32 minutes, this French documentary short was filmed a decade after the liberation of concentration camps such as Auschwitz. Featuring footage in both color and black and white, Night and Fog discusses what life was like in the concentration camps, including tales of starvation, torture, internal whorehouses and medical experiments. The sinister rise of Nazi ideals is also covered, and there’s little wonder why director and critic Francois Truffaut listed this film as the greatest ever made.
9. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – Hitler only has a brief appearance in the third Indiana Jones film, but it’s hard to leave this entertaining Steven Spielberg movie off the list. This time around, Indy and company are searching for the mythical Holy Grail to prevent it from falling into German hands. Indy gets some additional assistance in the form of Henry Jones, Sr., played to perfection by Sean Connery. Plenty of action, plenty of laughs, and the Nazis once again make reliable villains.
10. The Producers (1968) – Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder star as a producer and accountant who hope to cheat their investors by putting on the biggest flop in Broadway history and then fleeing the country. They settle upon a play entitled Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp wit h Adolph and Eva at Berchtesgaden. A hippie is hired to act and sing in the role of Hitler, and great care is taken to see that the play bombs beyond all others. But this is a Mel Brooks film, after all, so things don’t go exactly the way our conning con men plan. Skip the 2005 version and see this one instead.