The Boys from Brazil 1.0 stars

The Lone Ranger Nazi-hunter, modelled on Simon Wiesenthal, is made to seem a worryingly feeble hero, afflicted in his dotage by the world's growing indifference, his own infirmity, his leaky plumbing, and his overdue rent; but the sympathy evoked by the role is more than cancelled out by Laurence Olivier's irritatingly kvetchy performance, undoubtedly not modelled on Simon Wiesenthal but on the hammy, maudlin style of chicken-soup Jewish character actors. Gregory Peck, with a face as white as flour and hair as black as tar, is the Nazi-hunter's prey, though he looks a mite young to have been the Buchenwald butcher he is supposed to be. The surpassingly silly premise of this Ira Levin story is a Master Race scheme to clone Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz appears briefly to lecture on the scientific actuality of the scheme), and the only real fun in this solemn thriller is the characterization of the ninety-four identical fourteen-year-old Hitlers scattered around the world, already insufferably arrogant little bastards, with piercing blue eyes and dark, waxy forelocks sloping diagonally across their foreheads. Directed by Franklin Schaffner. 1978.

Duncan Shepherd

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