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The Boys from Brazil

The Boys from Brazil – 1978
If they survive…will we?

Franklin J. Schaffner

Ira Levin (novel)
Heywood Gould

Robert Fryer executive producer
Stanley O’Toole producer
Martin Richards producer

Gregory Peck – Dr. Josef Mengele
Laurence Olivier – Ezra Lieberman
James Mason – Eduard Seibert
Lilli Palmer – Esther Lieberman
Uta Hagen – Frieda Maloney
Steve Guttenberg – Barry Kohler (as Steven Guttenberg)
Denholm Elliott – Sidney Beynon
Rosemary Harris – Mrs. Doring
John Dehner – Henry Wheelock
John Rubinstein – David Bennett
Anne Meara – Mrs. Curry
Jeremy Black – Jack Curry/Simon Harrington/Erich Doring/Bobby Wheelock
Bruno Ganz – Professor Bruckner
Walter Gotell – Mundt
David Hurst – Strasser
Wolfgang Preiss – Lofquist
Michael Gough – Mr. Harrington
Joachim Hansen – Fassler
Sky Dumont – Hessen (as Guy Dumont)
Carl Duering – Trausteiner
Linda Hayden – Nancy
Richard Marner – Doring
Georg Marischka – Gunther
Günter Meisner – Farnbach
Prunella Scales – Mrs. Harrington
Raul Faustino Saldanha – Ismael
Jürgen Andersen – Kleist (as Jurgen Anderson)
Mervyn Nelson – Stroop
David Brandon – Schmidt
Monica Gearson – Gertrud
Wolf Kahler – Schwimmer
Gerti Gordon – Berthe

Review by Theo Robertson

The Boys from Brazil (1978)

Has Ham Suddenly Become Kosher?
I didn’t thunk much of this movie and much of the blame should be centered on Ira Levin’s source novel . Someone rightly points out that personality is possibly more to do with environment that genetics , so how come nobody realises that Nazi Germany wasn’t all down to Hitler ? I’m thinking of millions of Germans who fought and lost a world war from 1914 to 1918 and tens of millions of Germans being affected by the terms of the Versaille treaty . Hitler himself fought in the war and was lying in hospital when the war ended and all these factors had far more importance in the creation of Nazi Germany than Hitler’s father being a civil servant . In other words Levin’s plot is totally ludicrous to say the least.

Apart from the silly plot the main problem with the film version of BOYS FROM BRAZIL is the acting and it’s quite ironic that with a story centered around Jews that there’s so much ham on display . Really the acting is really awful , so bad that you can’t help laughing at the performances . Laurence Olivier gives possibly the worst performance of his career while Gregory Peck seems to be giving an impersonation of Basil Fawlty , oh gawd even James Mason is bad and that’s not something I can say lightly.

Yeah this is an entertaining movie but if you’re making a thriller it’s vital that you thrill the audience and not have them rolling in the aisles with something that feels like it’s a sequel to THE PRODUCERS . How amusing is it Theo ? It’s so amusing that I burst out laughing when someone made the very predictable cry of ” Help get a doctor ” – ” I am a doctor you idiot ”

The Boys from Brazil (1978)

Review by Wayne Malin

Silly but good thriller,
Based on Ira Levin’s book. It has Josef Mengle (Gregory Peck) setting into motion an international plot to clone Hitler (don’t ask). Nazi hunter Ezra Liberman (Laurence Olivier) tries to stop him.

The plot is ridiculous–purportedly even Ira Levin said it was just preposterous–but this movie pulls you right in. Silliness aside the plot itself is ingenious and makes you actually think “what if…” This was a big budget production shot all over the world with an international cast. It’s well-directed, looks great, moves quickly and has a great score by Jerry Goldsmith.

Peck is cleverly cast against type as a sadistic Nazi. Sadly it doesn’t work. He seems VERY uneasy and struggles under unconvincing makeup. Also Jeremy Black is lousy in his multiple roles–no surprise that this was his only movie. However Olivier is just great (and was Oscar nominated) in his role and the rest of the cast is right on target also–especially James Mason (doing a convincing German accent) and Lilli Palmer. And it was fun to see a very young Steve Guttenberg, Michael Gough and Anne Merea in small roles. My only complaint is the truly sick violent fight between Peck and Olivier at the end. Seeing these two talented actors biting, clawing and gouging at each other is truly disturbing. But I think (and I could be wrong) that that sequence has been edited. I clearly remember seeing it in a theatre in 1978 and seeing Peck biting Olivier’s ear pretty clearly–it’s barely shown here. I’m not complaining though.

A good, well-made thriller. I give it an 8.

Trivia: Olivier played a sadistic Nazi himself in “Marathon Man” made two years before this.

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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