Released February 8, 2019
Not Rated (Would be rated PG-13 for violence)
1 hr. 38 min.
Directed, Written, and Produced by Robert D. Krzykowski (Elsie Hooper, Carolina Low)
Cinematography by Alex Vendler (Blood Money, South Side)
Music by Joe Kraemer (Jack Reacher, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation)
Edited by Zach Passero (Carolina Low, The Woman)
Also Produced by Shaked Berenson (Big Ass Spider!, Turbo Kid), Patrick Ewald (The Lodgers, The Golem), and Lucky McKee (The Lost, Roman)
Starring Sam Elliott (Road House, A Star is Born), Aidan Turner (The Hobbit Trilogy, And Then There Were None), Caitlin Fitzgerald (It’s Complicated, Succession), Ron Livingston (Office Space, The Conjuring), and Larry Miller (Pretty Woman, Get Smart)
I don’t write articles for “ED – Music, Movies, Etc.” as often as I wish I could, so when I get the opportunity, I should write about something big, right? The newest Quentin Tarantino movie, from one of the few directors still working for whom releasing an original film is an event? Yeah, well, I’m getting to that. The best action flick of the year, and one of the best of the decade, John Wick: Chapter 3? No. My favorite film of the year so far, S. Craig Zahler’s brutal, sobering Dragged Across Concrete? No.
No, what I’ve chosen instead is a weird one:
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot
Maybe it’s just because, as my brother told me a few weeks ago, I “like a lot of strange movies.” Nevertheless, this is a weird film, and one I just needed to tell you all about!
The plot is a simple one really. Young Calvin Barr (Aidan Turner), a hat store employee in small town, northeastern U.S.A., is a quiet, sensitive man, but capable of toughness and violence. He meets the love of his life in the local middle school teacher Maxine (Caitlin Fitzgerald), but their love is ill-fated. America joins World War II and so does Calvin, where he becomes a spy, active behind enemy lines, a mythic force. On one mission, he is forced to go to great lengths to cross a moral line of his in order to assassinate the endlessly evil Adolf Hitler (this is not a spoiler, it’s in the title). Yet despite Hitler’s evil, this point-blank murder of a shell of a man haunts Calvin, and he returns to his hometown, though not everything is as he had left it.
The older Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott) spends his days in the 1980s retired, shuffling from the local bar every night at closing time and waking up in the morning to his dog, his prescribed pills, and a longing for both the relationships and the calmness of spirit he can’t quite regain. He is a good man but lost in the world. His barber brother (Larry Miller) tells him they should go fishing together. The bartender tells him he should move to Florida, to live out the rest of his days in luxury, golfing, and tanning. Still, Calvin cannot pull himself away from this town or this existence.
It is at this point in Calvin’s life the U.S. and Canadian governments come calling. They have an assignment for Calvin (and this is where the movie will lose you if you’re not on board for the ride). An FBI agent (Ron Livingston) tells Calvin a series of killings in Canada, which have been reported heavily in the news lately, are not the work of a sick human but rather the side effects of a virus being spread by Bigfoot, the Sasquatch himself. Currently, the two governments are working together to contain this infection in the Canadian wilderness, but only the few humans immune to Bigfoot’s extremely deadly disease can get within site of the beast without dropping dead. Since the U.S. government kept a sample of Calvin’s blood, seeing he was such a special soldier, they know Calvin is now the only human left alive capable of hunting down the Bigfoot and killing him, stopping the virus before it effects all of humanity.
Once upon a time, B movies, and most of the actors who participated in them, were not discussed in so-called polite society. There was a time when B movies and B movie actors were looked down upon in varying amounts of disgust. Yet, over the years, folks in all areas of life have come to realize the talent and value some of these B flicks and actors contain. Quentin Tarantino lifted portions of B pictures wholesale and dropped them, as well as some of their stars, into films that played in major film festivals and decent theaters all across the world; Tarantino’s latest film is partially about the good qualities in and behind B flicks. Tim Burton paid his respects to B movies by featuring actors such as Vincent Price in his films, which are popular with audiences and critics alike, and by referencing them in movies like Mars Attacks! or, especially, Ed Wood. And the aforementioned S. Craig Zahler is currently engaged in taking inspiration from ’70s grindhouse movies and elevating elements from them into thoughtful explorations of America.
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot is another such film. With a title that would have made Roger Corman salivate, The Man Who Killed Hitler has a weird premise for sure and some bizarre moments, but it’s also strangely serious, and quite well made by promising director Robert D. Krzykowski and his crew, which includes legendary effects artist, Dogulas Trumbull. Odd! Plus, it features the ever great Sam Elliott front and center, so what’s not to love?
The film does contain one recurring metaphor that I found too silly even for this movie, some unnecessarily repetitive dialogue, and one sudden jump in editing that I found jarring, ruining the pacing in that particular moment. Otherwise, The Man Who Killed Hitler is a quiet, thoughtful film that competently and respectfully pays homage simultaneously to B movies in the war and science fiction genres, legendary actor Sam Elliott, and World War II veterans, more of which leave us every day. The film pays this homage in a way that is original, not ripping off any previous films or relying on them as a crutch. It is not ashamed of the B movies, nor does it look at them in an ironic way, nor does it try to replicate them.
The barrier for many here will be the uber-serious mind of the movie, which deals equally with the assassination of Adolf Hitler and the Sasquatch. If you can get onboard with it though, I think you’ll enjoy it. I know I did.