British hunter Thorndike vacationing in Bavaria has Hitler in his gun sight. He is captured, beaten, left for dead, and escapes back to London where he is hounded by German agents and aided by a young woman.
An altruistic department-store owner hires ex-convicts in order to give them a second chance at life. Unfortunately, one of the convicts he hires recruits two of his fellow ex-convicts in a plan to rob the store.
On May 27, 1942 the Nazi Reichsprotector of Bohemia/Moravia, the "Hangman" Reinhard Heydrich, died from the bullets of unidentified resistance fighters. Hangmen Also Die is the story of Heydrich's assassination in fictionalized form. It was Bertolt Brecht's only comparatively successful Hollywood project; the money he received allowed him to write "The Visions of Simone Marchand", "Schwyk in the Second World War" and his adaptation of Webster's "The Duchess of Malfi". Hanns Eisler won an Academy Award for his musical score. Written by
J.Arnold Free <email@example.com>
During the Joseph McCarthy-inspired "Red Scare" era in the 1950s, this was one of the films labeled "subversive" by the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) because it was alleged to have contained dialog that might be construed as pro-communist. Writer John Wexley was even "blacklisted". It wasn't seen again in the United States until the mid-'70s. See more »
The character of Reinhard Heydrich wears the collar tabs of an SS-Gruppenfuehrer (group leader, roughly lieutenant general), three oak leaves. As Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia his rank was higher, SS-Obergruppenfuehrer (higher group leader, roughly full general). The proper insignia for this rank in 1942 was three oak leaves with a single pip underneath. See more »
Fabulous for the time--right smack in the middle of it all
Hangmen Also Die! (1943)
The best part of this movie is knowing it was made right in the middle of the war, not in some recreation of the events. It's a little hyperbolic, for sure, but really well acted (both the Nazis and the Czechs), and it ends up being a battle of wits and tricks between the two sides.
Fritz Lang was a refuge from Nazi Europe and made this in Hollywood, with an expected sensibility for the cruelties and barbarism of the occupying nasties. And they probably were this nasty--worse, in truth, though less comically so, as the movie sometimes pushes it a bit. Still, really enjoyable, in all. Yet, somehow, it was long. The twists from one scene to another started to sound familiar, and the tension was sustained rather than invigorated, if that makes any sense.
Brian Donlevy is the leading good guy here, and he's always a little less than compelling, though he is not in most of the scenes so I suppose that's fine. The double-crosser was played by Gene Lockhart, whose presence grows as the movie gets on, and by the end he's really pretty amazing (far beyond the caricature of, say, the judge he played in "Miracle on 34th Street"). Walter Brennan makes an appearance, recognizable mostly by his voice. Two of the Nazi higher-ups were terrific, both the Pilsner guzzling brute and the slightly comical but scary gestapo head.
Lang is no fool, and he makes this movie not only a pleasure, but an important tool to remind viewers to be involved, to realize that you can fight oppression, even Nazi oppression, with enough wits and sacrifice.
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