Hitler's Madman (1943)

84-85 mins | Drama | June 1943

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Hangman and Hitler's Hangman . Var reviewed the film as Hitler's Hangman. According to a HR news item, when writers Emil Ludwig and Albrecht Joseph registered their unpublished story, which was based on another unpublished story by Bart Lytton, for copyright, it was titled "Victims Victorious." HR also reported that, in Jun 1942, the MPAA banned the use of the title Hitler's Hangman , though the reason for the ban was not stated. The film opens with a verse from Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem "The Murder of Lidice," spoken by an offscreen narrator. Other lines from the poem are spoken during the film, and the poem's closing verse is heard at the end of the picture. Millay's poem was first heard in a radio broadcast on 19 Oct 1942 and was published the same year. Screen credits note that it was published by Harper & Brothers.
       As depicted in the film, the Czech village of Lidice was destroyed on 10 Jun 1942, in retaliation for the assassination of Gestapo overlord Reinhard Heydrich. According to HR , 25 Oct 1942 was declared Lidice Memorial Day in the U.S. and other United Nations countries. A Paramount Victory short, We Refuse to Die , which dramatized the Lidice massacre, was released on the same day, after a 12 Oct premiere in New York. (For more information about Heydrich and his assassination, see above entry for Hangmen Also Die! .) The Czech national anthem, "This Is Forever My Home," is sung in part in the ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Hangman and Hitler's Hangman . Var reviewed the film as Hitler's Hangman. According to a HR news item, when writers Emil Ludwig and Albrecht Joseph registered their unpublished story, which was based on another unpublished story by Bart Lytton, for copyright, it was titled "Victims Victorious." HR also reported that, in Jun 1942, the MPAA banned the use of the title Hitler's Hangman , though the reason for the ban was not stated. The film opens with a verse from Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem "The Murder of Lidice," spoken by an offscreen narrator. Other lines from the poem are spoken during the film, and the poem's closing verse is heard at the end of the picture. Millay's poem was first heard in a radio broadcast on 19 Oct 1942 and was published the same year. Screen credits note that it was published by Harper & Brothers.
       As depicted in the film, the Czech village of Lidice was destroyed on 10 Jun 1942, in retaliation for the assassination of Gestapo overlord Reinhard Heydrich. According to HR , 25 Oct 1942 was declared Lidice Memorial Day in the U.S. and other United Nations countries. A Paramount Victory short, We Refuse to Die , which dramatized the Lidice massacre, was released on the same day, after a 12 Oct premiere in New York. (For more information about Heydrich and his assassination, see above entry for Hangmen Also Die! .) The Czech national anthem, "This Is Forever My Home," is sung in part in the film.
       HR news items add the following information about the production: Czech-born Francis Lederer was first considered for the role of "Heydrich," and Frances Farmer was considered for the role of "Jarmila." Helene Thimig was announced as a cast member, but did not appear in the completed picture. Half of the film's $300,000 budget was supplied by German refugee Irving D. Berttauer, and the other half was provided by Peter R. Van Duinen, the Bank of America and others. When production began, Angelus Pictures, an independent company headed by Seymour Nebenzal, had yet to secure a distributor. In Oct 1942, Republic Pictures optioned the picture, but in early Feb 1943, a month after the option had expired, M-G-M purchased a seven-year distribution lease on the film. Republic protested the lease, and an arbitration hearing between Republic and M-G-M was held in Apr 1943. The disposition of that hearing is not known, however.
       When M-G-M took over as distributor, added scenes and retakes were ordered, and a new writer was brought in. Added material included Heydrich's deathbed scene with "Himmler" and university scenes featuring M-G-M starlets, including Ava Gardner. Mary McLeod and Leatrice Joy Gilbert were announced as cast members in the university scenes, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Sven Hugo Borg and Peter Michael were also cast in added scenes, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Hobart Cavanaugh and Nana Bryant are listed as cast members in early production charts, but their appearance in the final film is doubtful. According to the NYN review, the release of Hitler's Madman was delayed in New York because of competition from the above-mentioned United Artists film, Hangmen Also Die! , which opened nationally on 26 Mar 1943. According to an Aug 1942 article in PM , Vladimir Burban, a Czech minister in Washington at the time, would act as a technical advisor on the film, but the extent of his participation in the production has not been determined.
       The film was in release Jun-Aug 1943. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Jun 1943.
---
Daily Variety
9 Jun 43
p. 3.
Film Daily
10 Jun 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 42
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Aug 42
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Sep 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Oct 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 42
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 42
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 42
p. 24.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 42
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Feb 43
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Feb 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Mar 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 43
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 43
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1943.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 43
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Aug 43
p. 7.
Motion Picture Herald
12 Jun 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
12 Jun 43
p. 1361.
New York News
28 Aug 1943.
---
New York Times
28 Aug 43
p. 15.
PM (Journal)
2 Aug 1942.
---
Variety
9 Jun 43
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Dan Duncan
Dick Talmadge
Hans von Morhart
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
Story
Suggested by the story "Hangman's Village" by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech dir
Prod mgr
Tech adv on addl scenes
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Hangman
Release Date:
June 1943
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 27 August 1943
Production Date:
26 October--early December 1942 at Fine Arts Studios
addl scenes 1 March--13 March 1943 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 July 1943
Copyright Number:
LP12194
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
84-85
Length(in feet):
7,550
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
9121
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Karel Vavra, a Czechoslovakian-born soldier with the English army, parachutes near his home village of Lidice and sneaks to the farm of Jan and Anna Hanka. From Anna, Karel, who has been in England since the start of the war, learns that his parents were sent to a German concentration camp because of his connections to the British. Unable to return home, Karel waits for Jan and Anna's daughter Jarmila, his sweetheart, in the same woods in which they played as children. Jarmila, a schoolteacher, is overjoyed to see Karel, who explains that he is on a mission to spread resistance among the Czech people. Although Jarmila worries about Karel's safety, Karel encourages her to have hope and courage. After Jarmila takes Karel to a cave to hide, Nepomuk, a reclusive hunter, finds them. Nepomuk at first threatens to turn Karel in, but then rounds up the village men for a secret meeting with Karel. Karel entreats the men, who include Jarmila's influential father and Janek, a miner, to fight the Nazis through sabotage, but Jan insists that only caution and patience are needed. Although Karel fails to persuade the men, Jarmila pledges her support to his cause. In town, meanwhile, the outspoken Anton Bartonek is arrested by the Gestapo, and his wife Maria pleads with Lidice's Nazi mayor, Herman Bauer, for help. Despite Bauer's hollow assurances, Anton's execution is ordered by the brutal Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich, who oversees the Gestapo from Prague. Heydrich, who is known as "the hangman," then concludes that, in order to stem the tide of sabotage, he must stop Czechoslovakia's intellectuals. To that end, ... +


Karel Vavra, a Czechoslovakian-born soldier with the English army, parachutes near his home village of Lidice and sneaks to the farm of Jan and Anna Hanka. From Anna, Karel, who has been in England since the start of the war, learns that his parents were sent to a German concentration camp because of his connections to the British. Unable to return home, Karel waits for Jan and Anna's daughter Jarmila, his sweetheart, in the same woods in which they played as children. Jarmila, a schoolteacher, is overjoyed to see Karel, who explains that he is on a mission to spread resistance among the Czech people. Although Jarmila worries about Karel's safety, Karel encourages her to have hope and courage. After Jarmila takes Karel to a cave to hide, Nepomuk, a reclusive hunter, finds them. Nepomuk at first threatens to turn Karel in, but then rounds up the village men for a secret meeting with Karel. Karel entreats the men, who include Jarmila's influential father and Janek, a miner, to fight the Nazis through sabotage, but Jan insists that only caution and patience are needed. Although Karel fails to persuade the men, Jarmila pledges her support to his cause. In town, meanwhile, the outspoken Anton Bartonek is arrested by the Gestapo, and his wife Maria pleads with Lidice's Nazi mayor, Herman Bauer, for help. Despite Bauer's hollow assurances, Anton's execution is ordered by the brutal Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich, who oversees the Gestapo from Prague. Heydrich, who is known as "the hangman," then concludes that, in order to stem the tide of sabotage, he must stop Czechoslovakia's intellectuals. To that end, Heydrich orders all universities closed and rounds up a group of attractive women students, including Janek's daughter Clara, to serve as prostitutes for German soldiers. When Heydrich selects Clara as his personal mistress, she jumps to her death rather than serve him. Heydrich's actions spur some of Lidice's men to join with Karel, and the heartbroken Janek commits the first act of sabotage when he sets off an explosion in a mine, sacrificing himself in the process. Now doubting his neutral stance, Jan seeks counsel from Father Semlanik, who advises him to "suffer in silence." The next day, however, Father Semlanik is shot down by Heydrich when, during a prohibited religious festival, he protests the Nazi's sacrilegious behavior. Later, while Jan prays for guidance in Father Semlanik's church, Bauer's wife Marta, who has just learned that both of her sons have been killed in Russia, approaches him. Fed up with the senseless slaughter, Marta informs Jan that Heydrich will be driving through Lidice early the next morning, when her husband has ordered a curfew. Jan then finds Karel and Jarmila at the cave and plans Heydrich's assassination with them. The next morning, on the road between Lidice and another village, Jarmila, Karel and Jan ambush Heydrich's car, firing guns and hurling a grenade. Nepomuk, who had eavesdropped at the cave, then kills Heydrich's motorcycle escorts, giving his countrymen time to escape. Karel and Jarmila leave together, but Jan insists on returning to Lidice. The mortally wounded Heydrich is taken to Prague, where Gestapo officers order that hostages from Lidice be taken in order to rout out the assassins. Jan is among those seized, and afterward, the fleeing Karel and Jarmila are spotted by German soldiers and pursued. Although the patriots finally elude capture, Jarmila is shot and later dies in Karel's arms. In Prague, meanwhile, Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler arrives in time to hear the dying Heydrich bitterly predict that Germany will be defeated. As revenge for the assassination, Himmler then orders that Lidice be exterminated. On the following Sunday, the women and children of Lidice are forced into concentration camp-bound trucks, while the men are lined up and shot. The village is then set on fire, but the spirits of the dead rise up and vow to fight on. +

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

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