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Hitler - Beast of Berlin
Hell's Devils / Beasts of Berlin

USA 1939
produced by
Sigmund Neufeld, Ben Judell for Producers Pictures Corporation/Producers Distributing Company (PDC, later PRC)
directed by Sam Newfield (as Sherman Scott)
starring Roland Drew, Steffi Duna, Greta Granstedt, Alan Ladd, Lucien Prival, Vernon Dent, John Ellis, George Rosener, Bodil Rosing, Walter O.Stahl, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, Willy Kaufman, Hans Joby, Frederick Giermann, Crane Whitley (as Clem Wilenchick), Henry Zynda, John Voight, Hans Schumm
screenplay by Fred Myton, based on the story Goose Step by Shepard Traube, music by David Chudnow

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Germany 1939, at a time when World War II hasn't yet gotten into full swing, but the land is firmly in the grip of Nazi dictatorship: Hans Memling (Roland Drew) belongs to a small group of resistance fighters, who fight the Nazis mainly by distributing flyers attacking the regime's war efforts and making a plea for peace - enough to be considered an enemy to the regime. For a while, the efforts of Hans and his friends go undetected, but eventually he is spotted meeting with a leader of the resistance, Erlich (Henry Zynda) in a bar, and soon enough, the owner of the bar (Vernon Dent) is apprehended and tortured to give away Hans' name. Then Hans is arrested, right after he learns that his wife Elsa (Steffi Duna) is pregnant.

At Nazi headquarters, Hans is tortured to give away the names of his comrades, but his mouth remains shut. He even manages to speak a few private words with Albert (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski), the resistance's mole within the Nazis, and he asks him to tellhis wife Elsa about his whereabouts. But then Albert's Nazi friends persuade him to go drinking with them, and in a state of drunkenness, Albert gives away the whole organisation.

Soon enough, Hans and his friends find themselves shipped off to a concentration camp ...

Elsa meanwhile doesn't give up on her husband and the father of her child, and with the help of Erlich, she hires a lawyer (George Rosener) to get Hans back home - which shouldn't be too hard a job since the lawyer has good connections to the Nazis ... but no such luck for Hans: The head of the concentration camp (Walter O.Stahl) fought side-by-side with Hans in World War I and now considers Hans to be a dirty traitor to the German state ... so he takes a personal interest in keeping Hans in the camp and punish him at his leisure.

Thank God Erlich has taken a personal interest in getting Hans out of the camp and him and his wife out of Germany, so one day, when Hans is on working detail in the open, Erlich passes by in a hay cart where Hans finds a perfect hiding place ... and soon enough he is reunited with his wife Elsa and his newborn son in Switzerland ...

Pre-star Alan Ladd has a supporting role as a resistance fighter who eventually gets shot when trying to leave the concentration camp going over the wall.

 

A very early piece of anti Nazi propaganda made all the more interesting because it is the first film of a small studio (the Producer Pictures Corporation that would in a few months wind up to be the PRC) which would in the future not become famous for its political films ...

The film, it cannot be argued, carries the right message, and in a time too when most of the world did not yet know how to properly treat the Nazis and a film with such a blunt anti-Nazi-message was considered a bold statement.

But is it a good film ?

Not really.

Quite obviously, Hitler - Beast of Berlin was made on the cheap, as it features way too much dialogue and way too little action. Also the film is not free of its cheesy spots, and the ending, where Hans escapes the Nazis by means of a hay cart is simply disappointing.

On the other hand, the film isn't too bad either and certainly holds some interest asan early piece of anti Nazi propaganda - and you simply can't blame a film for being just that.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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out now on DVD