Movie Name: The Boys from Brazil
Studio: ITC Entertainment
Release Date(s): October 5, 1978
MPAA Rating: R
When a young Jewish Nazi hunter (Steve Guttenberg) discovers that Nazis in Paraguay are gathering for some plan, he makes himself a target of the leader of the group Dr. Josef Mengele (Gregory Peck) who can’t have his plans exposed. Getting the information to aging Nazi hunter Ezra Lieberman (Laurence Olivier), Ezra realizes that Mengele’s plans might have merit when he begins to target seeming random men for death…but the real horror is what comes next!
Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, The Boys from Brazil is a sci-fi thriller. The film is based on the 1976 novel by Ira Levin. The film was relatively well-received by critics and fans. It received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor (Laurence Olivier), Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score.
I saw The Boys from Brazil after reading the book and therefore new the plot. Though the plot is played off as a “twist” in the movie, it seems like it is really obvious especially in today’s standards. Due to the fact that there is a twist, a ******spoiler alert****** is in affect for the rest of the review.
The concept behind The Boys from Brazil was extremely edgy and high tech at the time which leads to this “surprise” about halfway through the movie. The movie deals in cloning. Back when the novel was written and the film was made, the idea of clones was a new concept. This leads to a rather long explanation of cloning in the middle of the movie and the big reveal that Hitler is the subject of the cloning. The story surrounding this reveal is interesting with the Nazi scientists trying to recreate the events in Adolph Hitler’s life that made Adolf Hitler…and later the decision if the boys should be allowed to live due to their potential.
The cast is surprisingly strong. Gregory Peck ventured into “horror” with The Omen and this feels like another opportunity to play a different character than the nice guy he often plays (plus he wanted to work with Olivier). Laurence Olivier played the evil Nazi in Marathon Man and now he plays a Nazi hunter. James Mason plays one of the Nazi allies of Mengele and Bond actor Walter Gotell plays another one of the film’s Nazis. Other actors appearing in the film include a young Steve Guttenberg, Rosemary Harris, Michael Gough, and Denholm Elliott. I particularly like the Hitler clone played by Jeremy Black.
The movie is rather simple looking. It does have a lot of locations, but it doesn’t seem to make the most of them (except maybe the dam scene in Austria). I wish that the movie was a little more stylish or had that gritty ’70s look…instead it looks like an averagely shot movie that is put together with some style.
The Boys from Brazil has an odd tone to it in general. It feels like there is a lot of tongue-in-cheek to the script and dialogue despite being a rather serious storyline. It hasn’t aged well in parts but in the context of when it was made, the movie is pretty smart and different. What’s scary is that the “boys” would be at full power now…maybe it is time for a sequel.