The first three movies I looked at for this month’s movie theme were all relatively serious. Rightfully so, because war should be taken very seriously. But to close this theme month off, let’s look at something completely different. Let’s look at a 1942 pro-war propaganda piece, Hitler: Dead Or Alive.
This movie is about a group of former Alcatraz prisoners for their gang activity, trying to kill Hitler for money. You’ve got Ward Bond (the Searchers) as Steve Maschick, Warren Hymer as Hans “Dutch” Havermann, and Paul Fix (The Rifleman) as Joe “The Book” Conway. Warren Hymer seems to be an interesting hire for such a role, considering he was previously blacklisted from the industry. Long story short, he was kicked out of Columbia Pictures after showing up to work drunk, and then urinated Columbia Pictures’ head Harry Cohn’s desk in revenge. Just … wow. But I guess he had the kind of mean streak needed for such a role.
There isn’t too much to discuss about this movie’s themes because it’s fairly straight forward. You’ve got three gangsters who are offered $1 million each to off Hitler. At first the money is their primary motive, and they act like typical gangsters. This leads to several fun moments, like realizing the plane their riding is full of beer, or swindling their way across Europe. However the movie also gets dark when it talks about Hitler rounding up and shooting kids.
Back when this movie was made, we had no idea that the holocaust was happening, or at least how bad it really was. I guess they needed to portray Hitler as a monster somehow. It does make this movie feel a bit awkward in retrospect though.
On the plus side, Hitler: Dead Or Alive also has some awesome moments. Forget about drive-by shootings. This movie features Ward Bond fly by shooting a fighter jet from a cargo airplane with a tommy gun. Towards the end, they also shave Hitler’s mustache, give him a haircut, and then convince his own soldiers to shoot him down as a spy. Beyond that, some of the action in this movie is pretty good for its time.
I want to make this clear. Hitler: Dead Or Alive is not a good movie. This is not a movie one could take seriously. But in hindsight, the awkward “rounding up kids” message, a handful of awesome moments, and a fun concept can make this an enjoyable watch if you’re in the right mood. Some of the performances are also pretty good. And as much as we should never forget what Hitler did, nor should we ever trivialize it, the best form of revenge against one of the 20th century’s worst dictators is making fun of him.
I hope you enjoyed my first movie theme month. Next month, I’m going to catch up on a few blogathons that have seen a movie or two release since. After that, I’m strongly considering a Robin Williams theme month for August. I doubt I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo this year because there’s still a lot of stuff I need to do in this house, even after spending almost all of yesterday unpacking and organizing, but I still might edit a couple of short stories to get back into writing.