Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973)

PG | 106 mins | Biography, Drama | May 1973

Director:

Ennio De Concini

Producer:

Wolfgang Reinhardt

Cinematographer:

Ennio Guarnieri

Editor:

Kevin Connor

Production Designer:

Roy Walker

Production Company:

Tomorrow Entertainment, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

The film’s working titles were 10 Days to Go and The Last 10 Days of Hitler . As reported in Var in May and Jul 1972, the American company Tomorrow Entertainment, Inc., the filmmaking arm of General Electric, was “heavily involved” in financing the picture, co-producing it with Wolfgang Reinhardt Productions and West Film. The film was distributed by Paramount in the U.S. and M-G-M in the rest of the world. The end credits state that the film was a British-Italian co-production and was shot at Shepperton Studios, England. Although a 1973 onscreen copyright notice for ‘World Film Services Ltd., Tomorrow Entertainment, Inc.” appears in the opening credits, the film was not registered for copyright until 19 Dec 2001, at which time Classic Media, Inc. registered it under the number PA409-348.
       Before the opening credits, the action begins with a black-and-white scene in which “Adolph Hitler” and his doctor discuss the successes of the Third Reich, while their conversation is intercut with actual photographs of the regime’s devastation. The scene is followed by historical footage narrated by journalist Alistair Cooke, explaining Hitler’s rise to power. Some of the clips were taken from Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 documentary Triumph of the Will . During the opening credits, a map of Europe is animated to illustrate the expansion and eventual decline of the Third Reich, up to the Battle of Berlin in 1945.
       As the story begins, two pronouncements appear onscreen emphasizing its accuracy. The first states: “This film is the result of careful research. The words spoken and the actions presented are all based on authentic historical evidence” and is ... More Less

The film’s working titles were 10 Days to Go and The Last 10 Days of Hitler . As reported in Var in May and Jul 1972, the American company Tomorrow Entertainment, Inc., the filmmaking arm of General Electric, was “heavily involved” in financing the picture, co-producing it with Wolfgang Reinhardt Productions and West Film. The film was distributed by Paramount in the U.S. and M-G-M in the rest of the world. The end credits state that the film was a British-Italian co-production and was shot at Shepperton Studios, England. Although a 1973 onscreen copyright notice for ‘World Film Services Ltd., Tomorrow Entertainment, Inc.” appears in the opening credits, the film was not registered for copyright until 19 Dec 2001, at which time Classic Media, Inc. registered it under the number PA409-348.
       Before the opening credits, the action begins with a black-and-white scene in which “Adolph Hitler” and his doctor discuss the successes of the Third Reich, while their conversation is intercut with actual photographs of the regime’s devastation. The scene is followed by historical footage narrated by journalist Alistair Cooke, explaining Hitler’s rise to power. Some of the clips were taken from Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 documentary Triumph of the Will . During the opening credits, a map of Europe is animated to illustrate the expansion and eventual decline of the Third Reich, up to the Battle of Berlin in 1945.
       As the story begins, two pronouncements appear onscreen emphasizing its accuracy. The first states: “This film is the result of careful research. The words spoken and the actions presented are all based on authentic historical evidence” and is signed Hugh Trevor-Roper, Regius Professor Modern History, University of Oxford. Roper was the author of the 1947 book The Last Days of Hitler . The second statement reads: “I personally witnessed most of the events depicted in this film which took place between 20th April, 1945 and 12:45 pm on 29th April, 1945 when I left the Fuehrerbunker” and is signed Rittmeister Gerhard Boldt. Boldt, who was the production technical advisor, lived in the bunker as adjutant to General Krebs and is represented in the film by the character “Hauptmann Hoffmann.” The film was based on Boldt’s 1973 book, Hitler’s Last Days: An Eye-Witness Account , translated from the German Hitler: die letzten zehn Tage , although the onscreen credits list the book as The Last Days of the Chancellery .
       Hitler committed suicide on 30 Apr 1945. Many previous films had been made about him, including Hitler’s Reign of Terror (1934, see below) and The Devil with Hitler (1942, see above). A 28 Aug 1972 article in Time reported on the revival of interest in the Nazi era in the U. S. and Britain, noting that in addition to Hitler: The Last Ten Days , several other projects were in progress about the dictator, including the made-for-television film Inside the Third Reich (1982).
       Throughout the film, dated maps show the progress of the Allies during the last days of World War II, and actual newsreel footage is used to highlight the contrast between the harsh conditions and the comfortable life in the bunker. The few scenes that take place outside the bunker were shot in black-and-white to resemble newsreel footage. The background score includes classical music and traditional German songs.
       A DV news item on 24 Apr 1972, disclosed that Alec Guinness turned down a number of directors before agreeing to Ennio De Concini. The project was De Concini’s first English-language film, and as noted by the 9 May 1973 DV review, with the exception of German actress Doris Kunstmann, who played “Eva Braun,” the cast was made up entirely of British and Italian actors. A 10 May Var item states that Helmut Berger was set to co-star and the HR production charts list Luciana Paluzzi as a cast member, but neither appear in the film. Modern sources include Paul Muller in the cast and note that Freddie Jones, Peter Sallis, Michael Sheard and Derek Waring appeared in scenes that were deleted.
       Guinness revealed in a 4 Feb 1973 Southland Sunday newspaper interview that he had spent hours looking at actual newsreel footage of Hitler and worked closely with Boldt to perfect his portrayal of the dictator. An accurate replica of the Führerbunker was constructed at Shepperton Studios, with the rooms designed to their original dimensions. Attention to detail was paramount, even to the correct make and style of the gun Hitler used to kill himself. Much of Guinness’ dialogue in the film consisted of Hitler’s rants on subjects such as the superiority of the Germans, the place of women, his objections to smoking, his decision to execute the Jews and his personal feelings about Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin. The day-to-day life of the bunker’s occupants and their emotional and political concerns are also illustrated in detail.
       On 7 Mar 1973, Var reported that M-G-M was using a series of ads to prevent confusion of the Guinness film with other Hitler-themed movies. Var revealed on 23 May 1973 that several groups in West Germany objected to the film opening on 20 Apr, Hitler’s birthday, and the chief of the Frankfurt Socialist party decried the exclusion of the anti-fascist movement in the picture, calling for screenings to be canceled. Another Var item on 23 May 1973 noted that the EMI-owned ABC circuit in London had banned the film from its theaters in the United Kingdom, but in spite of this, the film was a box-office success when it opened in London. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 May 1973
p. 4590.
Daily Variety
24 Apr 1972.
---
Daily Variety
23 Feb 1973.
---
Daily Variety
9 May 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jul 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 1972
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Oct 1972
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 1973.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
28 May 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 May 1973
Section IV, p. 1, 24.
New York Times
10 May 1973
p. 57.
Newsweek
28 May 1973
p. 99.
Southland Sunday
4 Feb 1973
p. 18, 23.
Time
28 Aug 1972
p. 38.
Variety
5 Apr 1972.
---
Variety
26 Apr 1972.
---
Variety
10 May 1972.
---
Variety
18 Jul 1972.
---
Variety
19 Jul 1972.
---
Variety
7 Mar 1973.
---
Variety
9 May 1973
p. 6.
Variety
23 May 1973.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
The John Heyman Presentation of a Wolfgang Reinhardt Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
English scr adpt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus score devised and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod supv
Prod mgr
Unit pub
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Hitler: The Last Ten Days by Gerhard Boldt, translated by Sandra Bance (New York, 1973).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
10 Days to Go
Last 10 Days of Hitler
Release Date:
May 1973
Premiere Information:
World premiere in London: 7 May 1973
Los Angeles opening: 25 May 1973
Production Date:
began 24 July 1972 at Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Middlesex, England
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
with b&w seq
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Lenses/Prints
Processed by Rank Film Laboratories
Duration(in mins):
106
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, Italy, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23577
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On 20 April, 1945, young Nazi officer Hauptmann Hoffmann reports to the underground Führerbunker in Berlin, where Adolph Hitler and his advisors are living. It is the Führer’s birthday, and as his mistress, Eva Braun, watches the cook bake his cake, she asks for something to disguise the fact that she has been smoking, which the Führer forbids. In the map room, after the Chief of Staff, General Krebs, reports to Hitler on the Allied advance toward Berlin, Hoffmann is introduced and nervously gives his report. Hitler flatly rejects the generals’ suggestion that the ninth army protecting the city retreat to prevent the meeting of American and Russian forces, predicting the bloodiest defeat of the Russians in history. After Hitler’s birthday party, Eva’s brother-in-law, officer Fegelein, asks her to persuade Hitler to return to Obersaltzburg for his safety, but she replies that the decision is his. The next day, rejecting warnings about the overwhelming number of approaching Russian troops, Hitler orders a counter attack and, declaring Berlin a fortress, demands its two million civilians dig anti-tank ditches, dismissing their welfare as unimportant. Then, learning that the ninth army is surrounded, Hitler denies the request for a sortie, demanding that the opposition be annihilated, and appoints Steiner to head the company. Taken with Hoffmann, the Führer makes him Krebs’s assistant, and Hoffmann is honored to be assigned to the bunker. Without Hitler’s presence, the generals acknowledge that there are no forces left with which to attack and no hope of winning, but argue about when to tell Hitler the truth. Oblivious, Hitler continues working on his plans to make Linz the cultural center ... +


On 20 April, 1945, young Nazi officer Hauptmann Hoffmann reports to the underground Führerbunker in Berlin, where Adolph Hitler and his advisors are living. It is the Führer’s birthday, and as his mistress, Eva Braun, watches the cook bake his cake, she asks for something to disguise the fact that she has been smoking, which the Führer forbids. In the map room, after the Chief of Staff, General Krebs, reports to Hitler on the Allied advance toward Berlin, Hoffmann is introduced and nervously gives his report. Hitler flatly rejects the generals’ suggestion that the ninth army protecting the city retreat to prevent the meeting of American and Russian forces, predicting the bloodiest defeat of the Russians in history. After Hitler’s birthday party, Eva’s brother-in-law, officer Fegelein, asks her to persuade Hitler to return to Obersaltzburg for his safety, but she replies that the decision is his. The next day, rejecting warnings about the overwhelming number of approaching Russian troops, Hitler orders a counter attack and, declaring Berlin a fortress, demands its two million civilians dig anti-tank ditches, dismissing their welfare as unimportant. Then, learning that the ninth army is surrounded, Hitler denies the request for a sortie, demanding that the opposition be annihilated, and appoints Steiner to head the company. Taken with Hoffmann, the Führer makes him Krebs’s assistant, and Hoffmann is honored to be assigned to the bunker. Without Hitler’s presence, the generals acknowledge that there are no forces left with which to attack and no hope of winning, but argue about when to tell Hitler the truth. Oblivious, Hitler continues working on his plans to make Linz the cultural center of the world and anticipates returning to the artistic career he sacrificed to save the fatherland. When informed that Berlin will be encircled within days, Hitler demands to know the whereabouts of Steiner’s army. The generals confess that because Steiner's three divisions are outnumbered by fifty, well-armed Russian ones, he has halted the attack. Livid because his orders were not obeyed, Hitler denounces his advisors as traitors and cowards, threatening them with grisly executions. Continuing his tirade, Hitler vows to stay in Berlin and defend the city by himself, but finally, exhausted and shaking, he concedes that the war is lost and that he must kill himself, then begins to cry. Following this, Hitler sorts through his papers, telling Eva to save the photographs of him, so that unlike Christ, future generations will know what he looked like. When a radio report announces that Russian and American forces have broken into violent arguments, Hitler’s hope for victory is revived and he feels vindicated in his decision not to retreat. Newly optimistic, Hitler sends an officer to Wenck’s twelfth army suggesting they join with the ninth army to make a continuous front. That evening, Hitler tells his guests that the Germans consider him the second messiah, when he is merely a genius who has dedicated his life to them. Hitler’s euphoria is shattered when Minister of Propaganda Josef Goebbels reads him a telegram from his deputy, Reich Marshall Goering, saying that because Hitler has chosen to remain in his fortress, Goering will take over as head of the Reich if he does not hear from him by ten o’clock that night. In spite of the treasonous ultimatum, Hitler rejects the suggestion to have Goering shot, preferring to remove him from office. On 25 April, Hitler learns that Wenck’s army did not succeed and that Berlin is finally surrounded, but he refuses to consider a partial surrender, saying that the German people are weak and deserve to be destroyed. Hitler decrees that General Ritter Von Greim will replace Goering as head of the Luftwaffe and demands he fly in to be informed in person, even though an entire fighting wing must be detached to protect him. Wounded on his flight to Berlin, von Greim is in surgery with his mistress Hanna Reitsch at his side when Hitler informs him of his promotion and later, even Reitsch, clearly besotted with the Führer, expresses shock that forty-three planes were lost in the pointless trip. That evening at tea, Reitsch watches Eva with Hitler and is later shocked when Frau Bormann confirms that the Führer has a bourgeois lover. Berlin is out of food and water, its hospitals overflowing with wounded and communications are down, but, clinging to the hope that the Russians and Americans are fighting each other, Hitler is determined to hold on until Wenck arrives. In the meantime, Hitler declares that the bridges into the city be secured by the Hitler Youth, horrifying Krebs by the prospect of the massacre of the untrained children. When Hitler is told that Fegelein is missing, he orders Hoffmann to find him and when Fegelein is returned, insisting that he left to cross the lines and join Wenck, Hitler has him stripped of his office. The generals receive a dispatch disclosing that the British and Americans are in secret peace negotiations, instigated by Hitler’s trusted Reichführer Himmler and argue about who will break the news to him. When the message is finally delivered to the Führer by a servant, Eva runs into Frau Bormann’s room crying over this final betrayal. Hitler, raging over the news, questions destiny for placing his genius with the Germans, and predicts a century of remorse and poverty for the ungrateful nation. In his fury, Hitler decides that Fegelein must have influenced Himmler, and within moments, Fegelein is killed. Later, while presenting an Iron Cross to a young boy who tells him that over 5,000 children have died in three days, Hitler smiles and tells the boy to go back and fight. That evening, during dessert, Hitler and his companions discuss various methods of suicide. Hitler suggests cyanide, and after assuring Eva that he has saved enough gasoline to destroy her body as well as his, spoons whipped cream onto his cake. Late that night, City Counselor Walter Wagner enters and nervously marries Hitler and Eva. At their wedding party, guests receive framed photographs of Hitler and small boxes of cyanide pills, including enough for the Goebbels children. Then, while Eva entertains the guests, Hitler dictates his final political statement to his secretary. With the end near, the residents of the bunker are drinking heavily, singing, dancing and making love. Hoffmann declines to join a group in trying to escape, and soon after they are shot by Hitler’s men during their attempt, Hitler entrusts Hoffmann to leave with a copy of his last statement. Hoffmann expresses gratitude for the honor, but once outside, tears the document to pieces. Desperate to delay the Russians, Hitler orders the underwater locks be opened, dismissing Krebs’s objection that thousands of civilians and wounded soldiers staying there will be drowned. Back in their room, when Eva asks Hitler if they might hold out a little longer, he tells her that he has known there was no hope of winning the war since 1943. As Hitler loads his gun, Eva wonders why then, did so many have to die, then she takes a cyanide capsule while Hitler rebukes her as a stupid, ungrateful girl. Moments after Hitler turns to see Eva’s body, a shot is heard. When it is announced that the Fürhrer is dead, everyone in the bunker begins to smoke. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.