To be completely fair, we have to weigh the good and the bad. Nothing is ever entirely one or the other.
Take Hitler for example. He did give us the Autobahn and Volkswagens. But his biggest contribution to our modern culture is in providing generations of filmgoers with villains we can all hiss at collectively.
Yes, from Raiders of the Lost Ark to the new release of Captain America: The First Avenger, movie nazis are the best damn villains ever.
And the cheesier the better. Whether it’s from their portrayal in Looney Tunes propaganda shorts from WWII to the plethora of Nazis in countless serials and B-movies, there is a definite Keystone Kops sort of cathartic enjoyment at seeing the most fearful war machine in history portrayed as a bumbling collection of euro-snobs.
One such crackpot representation is in the 1963 espionage potboiler Madmen of Mandoras. In this long forgotten title, spies track down nazi refugees to the fictitious South-American country of Mandoras to thwart their plot to release a deadly nerve gas. This is all in an attempt to reclaim the glory of the Reich and continue on their mad quest for world domination.
The film was photographed by Stanley Cortez, who worked for Orson Welles. he did a fairly good job of imbuing the film with a dash of Film Noir which in turn was derived off German Expressionism.
Back to our story, the agents’ surprise turns to astonishment when they discover an even more shocking reality: “Mister H” himself will be leading that conquest as his entire head, it turns out, had been surgically removed during the “final hours” and placed in some kind of preserving device that looks like a cross between a cristal radio set and a fishtank. (Matt Goening credits it with inspiring his “head in jar” method of preserving historical figures in Futurama).
Frankly, Der Fuehrer’s Face doesn’t do much besides barking “Mach Schnell!” a lot from his Hitlerium but it does provide us with one of bad-cinemadom’s classic images.
The film clocks at around 75 minutes so the distributor, Crown International (the people who brought you The Creeping Terror) hired a bunch of UCLA film students to pad out the film with an extra 20 minutes of new espionage footage in order to make the film compatible with a two-hour TV slot (with room for commercials). This is where it acquired the juicy (if not spoilerish) title They Saved Hitler’s Brain.
The result is a crazy, disjointed mess where night turns into day, hair styles grow from short Eisenhower era cuts to greasy unkept Nixon era dos.
This is one gruelling cinematic experience which has laid waste many a synaptic connection. It needs to be experienced to be believed. No amount of snarky copy on my part can even compete with the sheer surrealism of the experience.
So here it is. In it’s entirety for you to *ahem* enjoy.
PAIN LEVEL: 10/10
QUALITY OF PAIN: Gott in Himmel!