Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Boys from Brazil (1978)

The Boys from Brazil is one of those films I've seen so many times I just can't count it. It began with television, then vhs, a dvd and now bluray. The book is a brilliant piece of over-the-top semi-serious nazi-sploitation, but the film is even better. Franklin J. Schaffner spoils us with a good old-fashioned thriller with classical direction and some great performances by everyone - except the one :)

Laurence Oliver plays Ezra Lieberman, a famous nazi-hunter (modelled after Simon Wiesenthal of course) that one day get's a call from Paraguay. It's a young jewish man (Steve Guttenberg actually!) who discovered a big conspiracy overseen by the almost mythological evil nazi-doctor Josef Mengele! Ezra starts to investigate the case and at the same time Mengele (Gregory Peck) starts his dream-project: to created 94 cloned Hitlers all over the the world!

Yes, the story is so absurd, so wild, so BIG, that it actually becomes realistic. No, not realistic as in that it could happen, but you believe the story at least! The best thing with the movie is that is's such a huge production. It's a lot of money spent here, there's locations in the US, Europa, South America and with a parade of great character actors in more or less smaller roles. You have James Mason there, Lilli Palmer, Denholm Elliott, Walter Gotell, Michael Gough and even Bruno Ganz (who played Hitler in the fantastic Der Untergang). Gregory Peck is, believe it or not, perfect as a Bond villian-style baddie and I have not understand for people not liking him in this role. He's a cold bitch, and is very far away from the kind uncle Peck that he probably was. 

But the only weak thing is Laurence Olivier. I know he was terrible in John Badhams Dracula (a masterpiece by the way), but here he's almost as bad! He has a ridiculous accent, rolling eyes and a body language that would fit better in a local cheapo-nudie-cabaret in Bangkok! It's like he's in Naked Gun 33/3 and not in a half-serious conspiracy-thriller from the seventies. But after a while you get used to this and even his terrible, terrible performance can't destroy a good movie.

I confess totally that I'm a sucker for these nazi-related conspiracy-thrillers, real-life and fiction like this. Maybe it just becomes a better movie than it because of my interest? I'm not sure about that, but I think it's a very cool movie and one of the best (and silliest) conspiracy-movies from the seventies.

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