7.5/10
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Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999)

A cinematic portrait of the life and career of the infamous American execution device designer and holocaust denier.

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Cast

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

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 »
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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

14 January 2000 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mr. Death  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$495,318 (USA) (24 March 2000)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

Featured in A Brief History of Errol Morris (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A distinctive presentation of fascinating material
20 September 1999 | by (toronto) – See all my reviews

Leuchter is an expert in execution technology (designer of electric chairs, gas chambers, etc.), whose career was wiped out when he got swept up in the Holocaust revisionism movement (he testified, as an expert witness in a defamation suit, that the Auschwitz crematoria could not and did not serve as gas chambers). In this vivid documentary, Morris lets Leuchter speak for himself (which reveals him to be a man of limited horizons with a - let's say

  • quirky moral code, likely undone by hubris rather than evil [although


Morris may deliberately be making that as far as possible an eye-of-the-beholder issue]), while providing a blizzard of visual accompaniments that emphasize the lurid raw material of Leuchter's life (a strategy indicated by the B-movie undertone of the title), and flirt with his obvious sense of his own heroism. Leuchter has more than enough rope here to hang himself, and pretty much gets the job done. Morris doesn't try to explore the issue of Holocaust revisionism generally, pretty much taking our revulsion on faith: if anything, from my limited previous reading on the subject, that's doing Leuchter a favor. Anyway, revulsion or not, it's hard not to be fascinated by a man who can calmly chatter about his value-pricing approach to selling death machines (although custom made, he tells us, they're sold at "off the shelf" prices).


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