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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

First German-Made Hitler Comedy: Not Funny

The advance buzz about MEIN FUHRER: THE TRULY TRUEST TRUTH ABOUT ADOLF HITLER, which opens in Germany Thursday [Jan. 14], has been almost uniformly negative, with German critics and commentators proclaiming the film naïve, bizarre, vulgar and — most damning of all — not funny,” writes the New York Times. Perhaps it was inevitable that the first German-made film comedy about Hitler would get a mixed reception in Germany — a country still haunted, six decades after the fall of the Third Reich, by the mystery of how this strange madman once held it in thrall.”
This movie is wrong in so many ways.
What’s even more wrong is that Germans haven’t had a chance to see MR. SHOW WITH BOB AND DAVID, especially this 1998 sketch called “Hitlers” (from show 401), which dispenses in two minutes, the idea of what to do, comically, with Hitler.

In this sketch, a takeoff of THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL, clones of Adolph Hitler are created by the thousands–emerging from the laboratory full-grown and sent forth not to do evil, but to live as servants, performing menial tasks (cleaning, child-minding) for the relatives of Holocaust victims. In no time, they’re like part of the furniture–shut into closets when they’re not needed.
But they’re treated humanely, these old men, even given an evening off: there they are at a clone honky-tonk, drowning their sorrows and complaining about their lot in life. “It’s impossible to get a date,” one sighs. “Once they find out you’re Hitler, it’s over. Forget it.” (Listen to the country and western tune on the jukebox: it took me a while to notice that the lyrics-“Ja, ja…schnell, schnell…”-are an approximation of the classic cowpoke song, “Git along, git along….Little dogey”

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon