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Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999)

PG-13  |   |  Documentary, Biography  |  14 January 2000 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 4,525 users   Metascore: 78/100
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A cinematic portrait of the life and career of the infamous American execution device designer and holocaust denier.


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Title: Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999)

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Complete credited cast:
Fred A. Leuchter Jr. ...
Himself (as Fred Leuchter)
Robert Jan Van Pelt ...
David Irving ...
Caroline Leuchter ...
Herself (voice)
James Roth ...
Himself - Analytical Chemist
Shelly Shapiro ...
Suzanne Tabasky ...
Ernst Zündel ...
David Collins ...
Re-enactment cast
Daniel Polsby ...
Re-enactment cast
Jeff Brown ...
Re-enactment cast
Robert Duerr ...
Re-enactment cast


Documentary about Fred Leuchter, an engineer who became an expert on execution devices and was later hired by revisionist historian Ernst Zundel to "prove" that there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz. Leuchter published a controversial report confirming Zundel's position, which ultimately ruined his own career. Most of the footage is of Leuchter, puttering around execution facilities or chipping away at the walls of Auschwitz, but Morris also interviews various historians, associates, and neighbors. Written by ccampbell

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements | See all certifications »





Release Date:

14 January 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mr. Death  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$24,125 (USA) (31 December 1999)


$495,318 (USA) (24 March 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


All of the states which bought one of Leuchter's lethal injection machines have subsequently stopped using them because they were too difficult to operate and maintain. See more »


Fred A. Leuchter Jr.: The human body is not easy to destroy and it's not east to take a life humanely and painlessly without doing a great deal of damage to the individual's body.
See more »


Features Electrocuting an Elephant (1903) See more »

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User Reviews

Triumphant as a film, if not an 'objective' documentary
16 July 2000 | by (Wellington, New Zealand) – See all my reviews

Errol Morris has certainly 'injected' (pardon my contextural

pun) a bit of energy into the documentary form, even if the

films he makes lie somewhere outside its confines. Mr Death,

with its characteristic visual flourishes and tangents, is no

exception to this, though it does contain excerpts of a 'true'

documentary of Leuchter pilfering 'evidence' from Auschwitz.

Morris' film refutes Leuchter's findings to the point that the

only viewer who would give tham any credence would have to be as

biased as Ernst Zündel, the revisionist publisher whom

Leuchter's testimony defended. One detail of the film sticks out

in my mind... the home movies of young Leuchter accompanying his

father to work at the local prison, where he pals around with

the convicts, and explains how he learned at this tender age to

pick locks, pockets and safes... and with audible smugness

relates that these skills have actually aided him later in life.

The image of this boy nebbish, undoubtedly an outcast and loner

at school and socially, gaining acceptance amongst the convicts

helps to explain why such an intelligent and resourceful person

could be duped by the likes of the pinheaded, hateful Neo-Nazi

Revisionists. Here's a group of 'bad guys' accepting, applauding, listening and agreeing to Leuchter. Of course this

is because his undeniably faulted research supports their own

misguided conclusions. But it mirrors his experiences as a boy

among the convicts and provides a strong psychological

foundation for Leuchter's downfall into his delusional world. I'd recommend this film to anyone who enjoys thought-provoking

cinema, realizing that they are sadly in a minority amongst


6 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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