Barry Kohler, a young Nazi hunter, tracks down a group of former SS officers meeting in Paraguay in the late 1970s. The Nazis, led by Dr Mengele, are planning something. Old Nazi hunter, Ezra Lieberman, is at first uninterested in Kohler's findings. But when he is told something of their plan, he is eager to find out more. Lieberman visits several homes in Europe and the U.S. in order to uncover the Nazi plot. It is at one of these houses he notices something strange, which turns out to be a horrible discovery. Written by
Director Franklin J. Schaffner previously directed the World War II movie Patton (1970) which won several Academy Awards including the Oscar for Best Picture. The Boys from Brazil (1978) was the only other picture related to the Second World War that Schaffner directed. See more »
The train seen in the film's first shot is suddenly moving about 1/3 faster in the close-up that comes immediately after it. See more »
Dr. Josef Mengele:
You are born of the noblest blood in the world. You have it within you to fulfill ambitions one thousand times greater than those at which you presently dream, and you shall fulfill them, Bobby. You shall. You are the living duplicate of the greatest man in history.
[raising his hand in a heil motion]
Dr. Josef Mengele:
Oh man, you're weird.
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Young Nazi-hunter Barry Kohler (Steve Guttenberg) is tracking war criminals in Paraguay when he discovers that the old Nazis seem to be plotting something big. Kohler's fears are confirmed when the Nazis' guest of honor arrives: the infamous concentration camp scientist Josef Mengele (Gregory Peck). Mengele order his followers to carry out the murders of over 90 men, all of whom are 65-year-old civil servants, none of whom are Jews.
Kohler phones his idol, Ezra Lieberman (Laurence Olivier), with a report of what he's uncovered. Lieberman has fallen on hard times and lives in a leaky apartment where he cannot pay the rent. He's spent his life following every lead about Nazi war criminals and is tired of the chase. However, when Kohler's call (and his life) are abruptly cut short, Lieberman knows he must act.
He begins to investigate the bizarre plot. Why should Mengele want to kill these men who seem entirely unconnected to each other or the war? Why 65-year-olds? Why civil servants? Sadly many of the blurbs about this movie give away the solution to this mystery and the meaning of the title, but the mystery is much more engaging if the viewer unravels it along with Lieberman.
Olivier is fantastic in his role! He always put as much effort into his roles in genre films like this one, "Marathon Man," and "Dracula" as he devoted to Shakespeare, and it shows. He is thoroughly convincing as an elderly German Jew. Gregory Peck is also magnificent; he radiates pure evil. The top-notch supporting cast includes James Mason and Denholm Elliott. (So what's Steve Guttenberg doing in this movie?)
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