Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Boys from Brazil, The (1978)

Directed by:
Franklin J. Schaffner

Watch what happens when schlock goes mainstream! Investigative reporter Barry Kohler (Steve Guttenberg) has located a slew of Nazi war criminals in Paraguay and soon realizes they aren’t just there to hide out. Leader Dr. Josef Mengele (Golden Globe nominated Gregory Peck) is the evil master-mind behind a plot to kill a bunch of innocent civil servants (“94 men must die!”) from across the globe and resurrect the Third Reich by cloning Hitler’s genes. Kohler makes one last attempt to warn the authorities before he is murdered and gets through to Lieberman (Laurence Olivier), who investigates the claims and finds all kinds of sinister things going on in South America as he pieces together the clues and follows a trail of dead bodies. Director Franklin J. Schaffner and writer Heywood Gould (adapting the Ira Levin novel of the same name) delivered this to us with a surprisingly upscale cast, a plot similar to that of many a Grade-Z masterpiece and a finale featuring acclaimed leads Peck and Olivier in a bloody, ear-biting, face-clawing, rolling-around-on-the-floor fight also involving guns and vicious Doberman Pinchers, this one was unique to say the least.

The film received three Academy Award nominations, including ones for Best Editing (Robert Swink), Best Score (Jerry Goldsmith) and a 12th and final nod to Olivier for Best Actor, who patterned his performance after author and real-life Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and is quite brilliant in his role here. While he lost the award (to Jon Voight in COMING HOME), he ended up getting an honorary award for his entire body of work that same evening. James Mason co-stars as Peck's assistant, and there are nice supporting turns from the likes of Uta Hagen (THE OTHER) and Denholm Elliott. British horror buffs will also be glad to (briefly) see guest victims Michael Gough as an asshole landlord and Linda Hayden (BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW) as his free-spirited tenant. The impressive all-star cast also includes Lilli Palmer, Bruno Ganz, Wolfgang Preiss, John Dehner, Walter Gotell and Rosemary Harris.


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