Although sometimes tempted to caricature and inclined to simplify by suggesting that Hitler was no more than an addle-pated psychotic, this stands head-and-shoulders above most of Hollywood's attempts to deal with the Nazi peril. Semi-documentary in approach, it traces the rise of the Nazi party from 1918 to 1934 with the aid of some brilliant impersonations of Hitler, Goebbels, Goering, Himmler, Hess, Ludendorff, Streicher, Strasser et al, mainly by refugee actors. Its set pieces, in particular the Munich putsch and the Night of the Long Knives, are staged with real flair. But the fascination of the film, as its title suggests and as Parker Tyler noted, is its view of Hitler as a gangster (and therefore likely to get his comeuppance from betrayal by his own generals), where gangsterism is defined as 'the interest of minorities hallucinated as the interest of majorities and prosecuted in an extra-legal or anti-legal way... so that the nation became a gang'. The lucidly intelligent script, surprisingly enough, is by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, a partnership otherwise notable mainly for a clutch of distinguished musicals.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett|